Rajya Sabha

July 27, 2016

Derek O’Brien’s supplementary question on the prices of essential drugs

Derek O’Brien’s supplementary question on the prices of essential drugs

Sir, the Minister, in her reply of five pages, gives a good certificate to the Indian pharmaceutical companies in a very positive way. Sir, in light of that, here is my supplementary question.

It is about 74% FDI in pharma, which can also go up to 100% by just having a cursory review by the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). Sir, if you look at the Parliamentary Standing Committee recommendations of 2013, this increase in FDI would lead to the increase in medicine prices for the common man. There is this policy in Bengal in which 48-77% discount is being given on medicines.

So, my supplementary question is, what steps is the Government taking to make medicines affordable prices, and ensure that prices are not affected by FDI.

Here is the second supplementary question. In January 2016, the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) removed the limit of 5% customs duty on import of 61 drugs and withdrew customs duty exemptions from 15 drugs. These will now see an increase in duty from 0-5% to about 10%. Some of these medicines are on the National List of Essential Medicines and the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines and include critical drugs like Cancer and Thalassemia drugs. Prices of these drugs were expected to rise by 5-20% if cost of duties is passed on to customers. What is the current status of these exemptions and has the Government taken any steps to ensure that the cost of these exemptions are not passed on to consumers and domestic producers?