India has capped the prices of 36 drugs, including those used to treat infections and diabetes, in its latest move to make essential medicines more affordable, a senior official of the country's drug pricing authority told Reuters on Friday.
The medicines join the 348 drugs deemed essential and that are therefore subject to price caps, covering up to 30 percent of the total drugs sold in the country where less than 20 percent of its people are covered by health insurance.
Global and Indian drugmakers have been hit by wide-ranging government-imposed price reductions in the last one year in India. Industry officials say prices in the country are already among the lowest in the world.
"This is a straight-forward, most predictable, overdue action which has been done by us," the official at the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Drugmakers, including Cipla Ltd, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, and Cadila Healthcare Ltd, are among the companies that will be affected by the latest decision, research firm AIOCD Pharmasofttech AWACS Pvt Ltd said.
Cipla, Ranbaxy and Cadila did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
An official at the Department of Pharmaceuticals, which controls the drug pricing authority, confirmed the price cap move, but declined to give details.
People directly involved in the process told Reuters in June that the government was likely to raise the number of drugs that are in the essential medicines list and subject to price caps to improve affordability.
The NPPA is drawing up a list of mass consumption, essential life-saving drugs which it thinks should be included in the essential medicines list, said the senior official at the pricing authority on Friday.
The recommendations will be sent to health ministry by mid-October, he said.
Copyright: Thomson Reuters 2014