6,000 medicine brands worth about Rs 2,500-odd crore are likely to be banned soon. These are 343 Fixed Dose Combinations (drugs with two or more active ingredients), which the Drugs Technical Advisory Board will be asking the Health Ministry to ban.
India's Rs 1.10 lakh crore, drug market is saturated with over 25,000 brands and 349 FDCs were banned two years back as they were deemed "unsafe" and "irrational". Pharma companies and the government battled it out in various courts and eventually the Supreme Court directed the government to set up another committee to take a fresh look. The second committee has asked the government to ban all but six FDCs from the list it was given.
FDCs are a mechanism to evade price control measures and the same drug can be used to treat multiple diseases. Patient advocacy groups, however, have been arguing that the combinations are not permitted in most developed nations because they are unsafe. Patient safety is the primary concern, and the government should resist pressure from the drug-manufacturing lobby, when deciding what to ban.