With the Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) 2013 coming into effect, the prices of 151 medicines, out of 348 drugs that are listed under the price control, were reduced on Monday. Deputy drugs controller Ravi S Menon said that by next week 40 more medicines will come under the ambit of DPCO 2013.
“By October, the reduced prices of all 348 medicines listed under DPCO 2013 will come into effect”, he said. With this, around 60 per cent of the drugs in the market will come under the ambit of DPCO 2013.
The official said that the first batch of revision of prices, according to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy 2012, was announced on June 14 with 151 drugs coming under the new pricing regime.
As per the law, the new prices fixed under the DPCO comes into effect within 45 days of the NPPA notification. The 45 day window concluded on Monday.
Some of the medicines that are included in the 151 medicines are Halothane Vapouriser Inhalation, Propofol Injection, Paracetamol Injection, Paracetamol Syrup, Paracetamol Tablets, Hydroxychloroquine.
The national list of essential medicines has 348 bulk drugs with 650 formulations. Only 74 drugs were under price control, till now.
Though DPCO 2013 has come into effect, the chemists are not free from apprehension. Many fear that they would not get sufficient medicines for sale listed under the DPCO, as there is a possibility of hoarding the medicines.
But the Kerala State Drugs Control Department said that there is no reason to be apprehensive.
“We have already inspected medical shops across the state. So far we have not received any report regarding the unavailability of medicines.
Some medical shops have informed us of not receiving medicines of particular brands. We have taken up the issue with the respective companies and the issue will be sorted out by Tuesday”, Ravi Menon said.
At the same time, a staff crunch in the department is also giving headaches to the drug department officials. In the state, there are about 20,000 shops and sales exceed `5,000 crore.
The department has 65 officers including the staff in Ayurveda. 52 officers are assigned to conduct inspections.
But under them, there are more than 20,000 licensed shops including hospitals, cosmetic manufacturing units and the like. Monitoring all of them with limited staff facilities will be a strenuous task for them.