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Side Effects

PB Jayakumar     February 8, 2019

It's a Catch-22 situation for both the government and the pharma sector. The former has to act in favour of the common man where drug pricing is concerned. But rising input costs and "the government's arbitrary" ceiling on prices has meant some drugs are fast vanishing from drug stores. Many brands of widely used medicines such as Telmisartan, Rabeprazole, Vitamin C, Furosemide are just not available. Smaller firms have been worse hit.

After China shut down bulk drug producing units citing environment concerns, the cost of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) - accounting for almost 60 per cent of a drug's price - shot up by almost 200 per cent. As a result, production is no longer viable for many smaller players though no exact figures are available on brands or firms thus affected.

Since China meets about 70 per cent of India API needs, industry sources say for economically viable production, drug prices will need a steep hike. The catch, however, is that most essential drugs are covered under the price control ceiling.

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