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July 27, 2012

India to consider patented drug price controls

India is planning to enforce price controls on patented drugs, making them more affordable for poor patients.

By Liam Stoker

India is planning to enforce price controls on patented drugs, making them more affordable for poor patients.

India Department of Pharmaceuticals secretary Dilsher Singh Kalha told reporters, "A committee has already finalised a proposal and we will put it out in the public domain in a month or so."

"There could be a reference pricing system (for patented drugs) or maybe fixed-pricing, but a final decision has not been taken," Kalha added.

Although there are currently no price controls on patented drugs in the country, restrictions have been placed on the pricing of 348 drugs on a list of essential medications, decided by the Indian government.

The move comes just a month after India pledged to make medicines more affordable, implementing a $5.4bn plan to provide generic medicines to patients for free. As part of the plan, doctors could prescribe generic drugs for free, but would face penalties for prescribing brand name drugs.

It also follows India’s landmark drug ruling in which the nation issued its first compulsory licence, allowing Natco Pharma, an Indian generic drug manufacturer, to produce a copy of Bayer’s cancer drug Nexavar. Natco marketed the copy at 8,800 rupees ($158), significantly undercutting the 280,000 rupees ($5,000) Bayer charged.

Any such enforcement of pricing controls on patented drugs is likely to cause further concern for multinational pharmaceutical companies that had previously considered India to be a promising emerging market.

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