The Modi government has decided to make treatment of acute but common diseases in India more affordable to a large chunk of population.
Drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has slashed prices of 54 essential medicines by up to 55 per cent, including drugs for cancer (brain and breast), hypertension, diabetes, antibiotics and other heart disorders.
The 54 drugs are part of the revised National List of Essential Medicines, 2015.
In this regard the NPPA has issued a notification to manufacturers, distributors and retailers to implement the ceiling prices with immediate effect.
In a new list in December, the health ministry raised the span of price control from 684 to 875 medicines. The NPPA has so far capped prices of 280 new drugs which are part of the revised list.
This is the second time in 15 days that the NPPA has slashed prices. On April 28 too, the drug price regulator had cut prices of 54 other medicines.
According to the ‘Health in India’ report, high cost of treatment plagues India’s health sector and people avoid health services even when needed. As many as 68 per cent of patients in urban India and 57 per cent in rural areas attributed “financial constraints” as the main reason to take treatment without any medical advice.
The Health in India report also shows that in rural India, 25 per cent patients relied on “borrowings” for hospitalization and 68 per cent on household income and savings.
Following the NPPA order, some of the new drugs that will become cheaper include Temozolomide for brain cancer, various medicines for heart disorders as well as hypertension like Amlodopine, Ramipril, Clopidogrel, and Trastuzumab injection used in treatment of breast cancer.
As per the National Cancer Registry Programme of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), cancer has become the biggest cause of death in India with 1,300 deaths daily and close to 5 lakh every year.
Besides price regulation, the health ministry has also launched a pilot project called AMRIT (Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment) launched at AIIMS Delhi will sell anti-cancer drugs, cardiac stents etc at a fraction of the market rates.