While the government is right in ensuring the accountability of pharma companies on the issue, it is equally important that accessibility of medicines be improved in far flung areas.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) regularly monitors availability of drugs on the basis of monthly reports received from State Drugs Control Administration and also complaints, if any received from NGOs, individuals etc. The government says that on receipt of reports on shortage of drugs, NPPA immediately takes up the matter with the concerned manufacturer and would advice them to rush the stock to the affected area.
In a written reply in the parliament, the minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers, Mr Nihal Chand, however said, that whenever pharmaceutical companies have been found to be selling some of their medicines to the consumers at a price higher than the price notified by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), cases are registered against such companies.
The minister revealed that the NPPA has registered 1,040 cases as on June 30, 2014, since its inception in 1997. Demand notices have also been issued to such companies amounting to over Rs 3,600 crore for selling medicines at a price higher than the price fixed by the NPPA. As per Mr Chand, the NPPA has not received any report that access to medicines in small towns of the country has declined since introduction of Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013.