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Centre to unveil pharma policy soon

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The Government is planning to make maximum retail price on drugs to include all the taxes as in the case with other packaged goods. At present, MRP of drugs is exclusive of local taxes.

Mr E.V.K.S. Elangovan, Union Minister of State for Commerce (second from right), greets delegates at an international pharma conference in Hyderabad on Thursday. Mr Amit Mitra, Secretary-General of FICCI (extreme right) and Mr D.B. Mody, Chairman of Pharmexcil (extreme left) are also present. — P.V. Sivakumar

Hyderabad , Dec 1

THE Union Government will come out with a new national comprehensive pharmaceutical policy shortly, according to the Secretary in the Union Ministry of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, Ms Satwant Reddy.

"The policy is currently being drafted and is at an advanced stage of completion. It will be announced either by the month-end or next month," she told newspersons on the sidelines of the two-day International Pharma and Health Conference of India, Africa, ASEAN and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries here on Thursday.

The conference is being jointly organised by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council with participation from 29 countries in the African, ASEAN and GCC region.

"An important plank of the policy will be introduction of a health insurance scheme for the poor families ," Ms Reddy said. Further, the Government is also proposing to lay down a Special Access Programme for anti-cancer and anti-HIV/AIDS drugs. This will be a public-private-partnership programme aimed at helping in reducing cost of these drugs.

The Government is also considering a proposal to provide interest subsidy for funding implementation of Schedule M for GMP, she said.

In a significant move, the Government is also planning to make maximum retail price (MRP) on drugs to include all the taxes as in the case with other packaged goods. At present, MRP of drugs is exclusive of local taxes, Ms Reddy said. "We are also examining the feasibility of revival of pharma PSUs so as to ensure adequate availability of essential medicines at affordable prices. This will also give the Government the capability of critical intervention at the time of any health emergency.

"Of around Rs 3,000-crore of drugs purchased for supplies to State-owned healthcare centres across the country, the Government intends to procure at least Rs 300-crore worth drugs from the pharma PSUs as a part of their revival scheme," Ms Reddy said.

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