Major drug makers including Lupin, Wockhardt and Abbott have come under the scanner of the drug price regulator for allegedly tweaking essential medicine formulations to circumvent price control and overcharge consumers.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has issued a bulk show-cause notice in over 200 such cases alleging these medicines were launched without prior price approval.
In an office memorandum, the regulator said these companies altered essential medicines, prices of which are capped by the government, by either changing the strength or dosage or by combining the drug with another which is outside price control to circumvent price control. Besides, these companies had not even applied for price approval for the new products, the regulator said.
Queries through phone and email to Lupin, Abbott and Wockhardt did not elicit any response.
Industry executives said that since no price was approved by the regulator in these cases, the companies will have to pay back the whole amount of sales minus taxes, an official explained.
NPPA caps prices of all essential medicines or scheduled drugs and companies are required to seek its permission for price revision.
Other companies on the NPPA list for non-compliance include Biocon, Zydus Cadila, Unichem Laboratories, Sanofi India, Ranbaxy Laboratories, Reliance Formulation, Novartis India, Morepan Laboratories, Ozone Pharmaceuticals, GlaxoSmithkline Pharmaceuticals, etc.
The pharmaceutical pricing regulator has asked the companies to explain non-compliance by June 15 and give details of production and sales along with maximum retail price of the concerned products duly certified by chartered or cost accountant.
Courtesy: Sushmi Dey, The Times of India