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Prices of 800 essential drugs to increase a tad from 1st April

Mar 15,2024

Prices of essential medicines including painkillers, antibiotics and anti-infectives are set to see a minuscule increase from April 1.

In line with the annual change in the wholesale price index (WPI), the government is set to allow a .0055% increase in prices of drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).

After massive annual increases of 12% and 10% in prices on record last year and in 2022, this will be a meagre increase for the pharma industry. The adjusted prices will cover more than 800 drugs on the National List of Essential Medicines. Price changes for scheduled drugs are allowed once a year.

The list of essential medicines includes drugs like paracetamol, antibiotics such as azithromycin used to treat bacterial infections, anti-anaemia medicines, vitamins, and minerals. Some drugs used for treating moderately to severely ill Covid-19 patients and steroids are also on the list.

The industry has been demanding a substantial increase in prices as it has been battling rising input costs.

According to industry experts, over the last few years, prices of some key active pharmaceutical ingredients have increased between 15% and 130%, with the price of paracetamol jumping 130% and that of excipients increasing 18-262%.

Glycerine and propylene glycol, solvents used in every liquid preparation including syrups, oral drops, and sterile preparations have become costlier by 263% and 83%, respectively. Prices of intermediates have also increased between 11% and 175%. Penicillin G has become costlier by 175%.

Earlier, a lobby group that represents more than 1,000 Indian drug makers also urged the government to allow prices of all scheduled formulations to be increased by 10% with immediate effect. It had also sought a 20% increase in the prices of non-scheduled drugs.

However, an executive associated with an NGO said this will be a respite after the last two major hikes.

“Drastic hikes distort price controls. After witnessing two massive hikes back to back, this will be a good move in the interest of maintaining the affordability of these drugs,” the executive said.

Source: Pharma

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