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Blood pressure drugs and antibiotics to be cheaper as government plans to notify price caps

NEW DELHI: Top-selling blood pressure drugs and antibiotics could become a lot cheaper as the government plans to notify price caps for 51 essential drugs early next week under a new drug price control order that was enforced last month.

Under this second lot of notifications by the
National Pharma Pricing Authority, the brands selling the most expensive antibiotics would have to cut their prices by 30-60%.

For instance, the price leader selling the antibiotic Azithromycin would have to slash its price by 54% in tablet form and 65% under suspension. Similarly, the costliest brand of 
Amoxicillin would have to cut prices by 32% for the powder form and by 41% for capsule while for Ampicillin, the priciest brand would have to undertake a price cut of 80% for capsule and 50% in case of injection within 45 days of the notification coming into effect.

For the antibiotic Cefixime, the price leader would have to undertake a cut of 38% for the capsule and 63% for the tablet form. Atorvastatin, one of the top-selling blood pressure drug sold by over 50 pharma companies in the 
Indian market, would also see price cuts after this notification comes into effect. The top-priced brand would have to reduce prices by 36%. Other drugs that would see price reduction include protein Albumin injection, anti-fungal treatment Fluconazole and haemorrhagic cystitis injection Mesna.

Early this week, the government notified the prices of 150 drugs, in accordance with a market-based pricing formula. The decision to notify the second lot of essential drugs was taken at a meeting held by NPPA on Friday.

In May, India notified new norms that would bring down the prices of essential medicines, increase the number of drugs under price control and alter the way the government regulates prices in the Rs 72,000-crore domestic market.

Under the new pharma policy, firms selling essential medicines at less than the government-mandated price caps will have to freeze rates at existing levels and will not be given the option of matching the higher ceiling price. But those selling above price caps would have to slash rates.

The new regime replaces an 18-year-old price control order. The government will regulate the rates of 652 medicines, a substantial increase over the 74 bulk drugs and their formulations that are currently under price control. The previous method of fixing prices on a cost-plus basis is being replaced by market price-linked cap for each drug.