NEW DELHI: The Centre Tuesday informed the Delhi High Court that pricing authority NPPA has initiated the process to fix a formula to determine the MRP of oxygen concentrators, needed for COVID-19 treatment, as people were being charged exorbitantly.
The process for fixing the formula for MRP is likely to be concluded and the court will be informed about the development on May 31, the Centre said.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh asked the Centre's counsel to take instructions and file a report before May 31.
Justice Sanghi observed that the pricing formula was important as most of the manufacturers were not putting MRP or maximum retail price on oxygen concentrators and are not readily available in shops.
"It is not that it is available at Khan Market, it is through back door only that people have been able to secure oxygen concentrators," he said.
In a lighter vein, Justice Singh added "actually this time it was available only at Khan Market", after which those present in the virtual court room burst into laughter.
In a recent raid, Delhi Police seized 524 oxygen concentrators from a Khan Market restaurant.
Central government standing counsel Kirtiman Singh said the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has initiated the process for fixing formula to determine price of oxygen concentrators and it is proceeding on the same lines as suggested by the court earlier in order to minimize the margin.
The high court had earlier asked the Centre why it could not fix a formula to determine the MRP of oxygen concentrators which are in demand for COVID-19 treatment.
It had said it was not asking the government to fix a price in rupee or paisa, but to fix a principle on which oxygen concentrators will be charged.
The bench had suggested a formula like the landed price of the product plus duty charge (GST) plus 15 per cent profit margin.
The court was hearing a plea relating to fixation of price of oxygen concentrators by Delhi resident Manisha Chauhan who has also sought appointment of special public prosecutors for dealing with such cases before the special fast track courts.
The petitioner's counsel had told the court that in the absence of a notification declaring medicines and equipment meant for COVID as essential commodities, these are being hoarded and black marketed.
There was a confusion on the MRP as exporters kept changing the prices, the Centre's counsel said, adding that if the government fixed a price, even the current supplies may be hit.
The high court had earlier said that as early as June last year the process to fix prices of domestic and imported oxygen concentrators and other equipment was started, but was left unfinished.