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Top pharma cos overcharging, NPPA lists 634 drugs for breaching price cap

Veena Mani / New Delhi 28 Feb 17 | 09:11 AM

Photo: Shutterstock

Leading pharmaceutical companies are overcharging customers for hundreds of drugs, many of which are blockbuster brands, the price regulator for the sector has found. In a rare instance, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has listed 634 drugs that have been sold at a price suspected to be higher than the ceiling fixed for them under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO).

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NPPA, in its latest notification, has named Sun Pharmaceutical, Cipla, Lupin, Abbott Healthcare, Zydus Cadila, Wockhardt, Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Sanofi, Biocon, AstraZeneca, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, GlaxosmithKline, Intas Pharmaceuticals, Macleods Pharmaceuticals, Morepen Laboratories, Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer and Novartis among others for “suspected overcharging".

The regulator, which has sent notices to these companies, has also asked customers to bring to its notice any other case of pricing violation. Most of these companies could not be immediately contacted for their comments.

The NPPA has the power to issue show-cause notices to companies that charge patients more than the ceiling price fixed for drugs that are part of Schedule 1 of the DPCO 2013. While the companies will be given an opportunity to reply, the regulator can impose a penalty on them subsequently.

Among the 634 over-charged drugs in the NPPA list are commonly used medicines such as Gelusil, Soframicin, and Ring-Guard.

Abbott, for instance, has been listed for overpricing in 24 drugs, including injection and medicine, to treat lung infections, allergies, malaria, hyperthyroidism, diabetes etc.

Popular antacid Gelusil syrup, Claribid — a drug that treats respiratory diseases — are some of Pfizer’s drugs that have caught the pricing regulator’s eyes.

Alembic has been pulled up for some of its drugs that treat bacterial and fungal infections. Alembic Pharmaceutical’s Chief Financial Officer Raj Kumar Baheti told Business Standard, “We are 100 per cent compliant and have sent our comments to NPPA."

Widely used Soframicin cream, Cetapin (a drug that controls blood sugar levels in patients with type-2 diabetes), Vitamin D drops for children, Depura Kids Nano, are some of Sanofi’s drugs which the pharma price regulator has listed out for non-compliance with the ceiling price.

Alzolam that is used to cure panic disorders, Viscomet (an injection to cure dryness of the eyes), anti-psychotic drug Oleanz, eye drop Timolet, marketed by Sun Pharmaceuticals, are also in the list.

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