Are you sure the medicine you are consuming is at the right price?

 E Kumar Sharma        Last Updated: September 6, 2016  | 17:02 IST

E Kumar Sharma, Associate Editor, Business Today
Although there are norms and punishments for overcharging for medicines, but it is not a good idea for a consumer to just depend on the pharmaceutical companies or the pharmacies to get the correct price prescribed by the government as effective monitoring system is absent. For instance, the government had brought 103 medicines under price control regime with new MRP (maximum retail price) effective from April 1, 2016, but there are still instances of consumers complaints about drugs being sold at the old MRP - a good five months after the new list was released.
 
The note accompanying the list clearly states that "the manufacturer  not complying with the (new) ceiling price shall be liable to deposit the overcharged amount along with the interest."  While most companies seem to be following the norms, but there are still many complaints about old MRP medicines.

For instance, there are cases of certain brands of Clarithromycin (an antibiotic usually prescribed for lung infection or in some cases of sore throat), which were brought under the new list of price control, but are still being sold at the old MRP.

Normally, Pharma companies are given a 45-day window to make new stocks/re-labelled or re-stickered medicines available and to completely replace the drug pipeline with new MRP medicines. But then, how the end consumers can ensure that he or she is buying the medicine at the right price? One easy way is to use the recently launched mobile app of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority. On August 29th, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) launched an app called 'Pharma Sahi Daam' where you can search the name of the prescribed medicine for its MRP fixed by the NPPA. Or if you have already bought the medicine at the old MRP then you can share the receipt details and date with the NPPA and based on that an action can be taken against the retail chemist.

The pharma companies may argue that if the medicine is not fast-moving then there is a chance that old stock might still remain in the market as the stockiest would first try and liquidate the old stock even though the company might have given the new price. However, the consumer is well within his rights to seek the right price, a demand that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

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