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PM concerned over sale, production of spurious drugs

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Sept. 8

EVEN as pharmaceutical companies have expressed their worry over excessive price control by the Government, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, seems concerned over the issue of the unrelenting sale of spurious drugs.

Dr Singh had broached the issue at his latest meeting with top officials of the pharma industry.

Sources said that the Prime Minister was keen on methods being devised to block the production of spurious drugs and curb its dominance in the system. Industry has estimated the revenue loss due to fake drugs at Rs 4,000 crore.

The previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had piloted a Bill for awarding death penalty to peddlers of spurious drugs. The Bill has, however, lapsed and would have to be reintroduced. The Health Ministry, under the new Minister, Dr A. Ramadoss, would have to re-introduce the legislation.

The pharmaceutical industry, under the aegis of the CII National Committee on Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, presented a memorandum regarding drug prices to Dr Singh on Tuesday. The industry has called for sector liberalisation and said that prices of drugs had not risen in the last few years. In fact the increase in drug prices has been lower than the increase in the wholesale price index (WPI). In 2002 and 2003, prices fell by 0.2 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively compared to WPI increase of 3.4 per cent and 5.4 per cent.

Officials also added that competition has led to the launch of several brands. For instance, there are 174 brands for the bulk drug of paracetamol, while amoxicillin has about 109 brands.

The memorandum indicated that exports from India could grow from the existing $2 billion to $20 billion by 2010. Also, the country could become a research and development (R&D) hub as the cost of research in India is lower than in the US.

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