12 October 2011
By , Dhananjay Mahapatra
New Delhi, India
Making it affordable
The Supreme Court on Tuesday wanted to know the Centre’s seriousness about bringing essential medicines, used by poor patients to fight ailments like tuberculosis, diarrhoea, heart diseases and malaria, under the ambit of price control.
The SC bench asked the secretaries of ministry of health and ministry of chemical and fertiliser to file affidavits in four weeks stating whether the government wanted to bring the essential medicines under the ambit of price control.
Petitioner All India Drug Action Network, through senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, cited parliamentary committee reports, which said poor patients were not getting essential medicines because of spiraling prices.
The bench noted that a 2010 Parliamentary Standing Committee report as well as a 2005 Standing Committee report of the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers had admitted that essential medicines were not available to the poor at reasonable prices. In the past two decades, the number of essential medicines under price control dropped from 347 to 76.
An expert group had recently reported that the price of drugs put under the control regime had risen by 0.02% in the decade 1996-2006. But, those essential medicines not under the price control regime had registered an increase of 15%.