NEW DELHI: The Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare has demanded measures to regulate prices of all medicines in the country and enforce a code of marketing for pharmaceutical companies.
The demand has come up in the wake of concerns expressed by US President Donald Trump that most drugs are priced higher in America than in many other countries in the world.
“If the president of the richest country in the world can feel concerned about the exorbitant prices of medicines in that country, one can well imagine the situation in a country like India where millions and millions of people can’t even afford two square meals, leave aside proper treatment,” the doctors’ alliance said on the eve of the Union budget.
Trump has been saying that cutting drug prices is one of the “greatest priorities” for his administration. He said as much in his State of the Union address on Tuesday too.
The doctors’ alliance, which has about 300 members, said it had repeatedly flagged its concern to the prime minister with documentary proof. “However, nothing has been done so far,” a statement released on Wednesday said.
It said there was a massive gap between the manufacturing cost of the drugs and the prices at which they were sold. It said there was dire need to regulate prices in the country.
“It is surprising that the President of such a rich country like the US was concerned about the high prices of medicines in his country, while the powers that be in India were not bothered at all despite many reminders and rejoinders,” the statement noted.
The alliance said that on the one hand the government was pleasing pharmaceutical firms by not enforcing a marketing code and on the other it was allegedly misguiding people by “posturing as working in the favour of public”.
It said it would raise the issue in a meeting called by the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority on February 5 to review the price of coronary stents that was cut last year.
“There are reports that the US industry is pressurising the Indian government to increase the price of stents. Any such decision will be opposed by the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare,” the statement read.