Govt keeps price cap on covid drugs, devices

Govt keeps price cap on covid drugs, devices
The National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) has extended till June the price cap on five essential medical devices such as oxygen concentrators that are largely used for treating covid-19.

The government had regulated the price of oxygen concentrators along with other devices—digital thermometer, pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitoring machine, nebulizer, and glucometer—during the pandemic. This is being done at the first point of sale of the product (price to distributor) for fixation of maximum retail price of these products, as per the latest government notification.

With increasing covid cases in India, the Union government is ensuring the prior availability of drugs and lifesaving equipment. In addition to this, the health ministry has directed all the states and Union territories to ensure hospitals are well stocked with drugs, beds including intensive care unit (ICU) beds, medical equipment, medical oxygen, and trained personnel.

Queries sent to the health ministry spokesperson remained unanswered. “From time to time, the Centre and state governments are taking effective measures to regulate the prices of essential medical devices to deal with the evolving covid-19 situation," said an official familiar with the matter.

Simultaneously, the national drug price regulator has fixed the ceiling price of 25 drug formulations like—Itraconazole capsules used for fungal infections, paracetamol for fever, telmisartan and chlorthalidone tablets for treating blood pressure, Levocetirizine, Montelukast and (SR) Ambroxol Hydrochloride tablets required for the treatment of respiratory infections, ORS with zinc powder, etc.

“The move will make drugs cheaper, and manufacturers failing to comply will have to deposit the overcharged amount with the government," said the official adding the decision was taken in the latest meeting of the authority.
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