Remdesivir makers asked to come clean on price, output

NEW DELHI | MUMBAI: India’s drug pricing regulator has sought details on the price movement and production of remdesivir and insisted on more transparency from the manufacturers of the antiviral, following complaints about black marketing of the drug.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has also suggested the setting up of a helpline for remdesivir, and asked for proper display of its price by dealers and hospitals.

The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) had earlier asked states to keep a watch on the sale of the drug prescribed for Covid-19 treatment. “While the issue of selling above the MRP comes under the Legal metrology department, we have suggested a few methods to ensure that people are not taken for a ride, like putting information on the price of the drug in public knowledge. We have written to the drug controller asking to set up a helpline too,” NPPA chairperson Shubhra Singh told ET.


Since the drug is not a scheduled one, the NPPA does not have much say on its price. “The lacunae in the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) comes into play here. Since it’s not a scheduled drug, NPPA doesn’t have much ground here. The NPPA can initiate price control only during the annual price hike,” said a person aware of the matter.

However, the drug price regulator can invoke Paragraph 19 of the DPCO 2013 that empowers it to fix or revise the ceiling price or retail price of any drug which it deems necessary for the interest of public in case of any extraordinary circumstances, people in the government said.

“We have to ensure availability with affordability and hence a call regarding para 19 can be taken at any stage,” one of the people said.

To clamp down on the alleged black marketing of the drug, the DCGI has asked state drug regulators and the NPPA to enforce the maximum retail price of the experimental Covid-19 drug.

The action by Drug Controller General of India VG Somani comes after it received a letter from LocalCircles, a social media site dedicated for governance and community engagement, on the alleged black marketing.


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