Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Apr 29, 2006
Industry & Economy
States - Andhra Pradesh
Officials express concern over high drug prices
Health care products such as medicines, diagnostics, medical devices and newer drugs of genetic and biotechnology origin which are being used widely for human benefit, need a close watch.
The Government should desist from appointing drug inspectors on contract basis.
Visakhapatnam , April 28
The All-India Drug Control Officers' Confederation (AIDCOC), which is conducting its national convention to mark its 10th anniversary here on April 29 and 30, wants a mechanism to regulate drug prices.
The meeting, to be inaugurated by the Union Minister of State for Health, Ms P. Lakshmi, will discuss the problems confronting the drug control administration.
Four hundred officers are expected to attend the convention. It will be attended by regulators, social scientists, lawyers, consumer activists and experts to discuss the theme, "Towards empowerment of consumers regulator's initiative."
According to the organisers, health care products such as medicines, diagnostics, medical devices and newer drugs of genetic and biotechnology origin which are being used widely for human benefit, need a close watch by the regulators, enforcement agencies, health care professionals and consumers in the post-globalisation phase.
The AIDCOC Secretary-General, Mr R. Uday Bhaskar, said here at a press meet on Tuesday that only a few drugs were included in the price control order.
Alleging that several companies were virtually taking the consumers for a ride, he said some medicines with ex-factory cost of Rs 20 were being sold with a maximum retail price tag of Rs 300.
"They are simply looting the public and we feel the consumers have to be aware of it," he said.
Mr Uday Bhaskar said if serious efforts were made, prices of life-saving, anti-retro viral and anti-cancer drugs could be brought down drastically.
The confederation would also create awareness among the public on sub-standard and spurious drugs by putting information on its Web site (www.aidcoc.org) , he added.
Decrying the decision to appoint drug inspectors on contract basis by the State Government, he said instead of increasing the strength of drug inspectors, the number had been reduced from 55 in 1988 to 45 at present.
The amount spent on drugs was to the tune of Rs 120 crore a year, of which investment of just Rs 10 crore would make the department more effective.
He said the Government should desist from appointing drug inspectors on contract basis.
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