Firms Move HC Against Govt Fixing Asthma Drug Price
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13 April 2010
By Almas Meherally
Drug makers Ranbaxy Laboratories and Macleods Pharmaceuticals have moved the Bombay High Court challenging the government’s decision to fix the retail price for antiasthma drug Doxofylline.
Government lawyer Advait Sethna told ET that the government had fixed the retail price for Doxofylline in November 2009 as the drug was a derivative of Theophylline, a scheduled bulk drug, which is sold at a fixed price. A bulk drug is a raw material for a formulation. However, pharma companies are yet to start selling Doxofylline at the new price. The case was heard on April 8. It is now scheduled to come up for hearing on April 21.
The pharma companies had filed their applications separately with the High Court last December, saying that doxofylline is not included in the pharmacopoeia – a guide book for drug formulations published by the government or a pharmaceutical society – in India or any other country and hence it cannot be included in the bulk drug schedule. They also said in their petitions that none of the makers of the doxofylline drug enjoy more than 40% market share, claiming that there is competition in the retail trade of the drug, and hence it can be kept outside price control.
Doxophylline is manufactured by Ranbaxy, Macleods, Cipla, Wockhardt, Unichem and Lupin.
GS Sahu, deputy director of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, the government agency responsible for fixing and revising prices of controlled bulk drugs, has responded to the pharma companies’ argument in an affidavit, stating that the main objective is to ensure availability of the drug at reasonable rates.
According to the pricing authority’s guidelines, firms selling Doxofylline will have to implement the new retail price. Currently, Dr Reddy’s Doxobid 400–mg costs Rs 78 for a strip of 10 tablets, and Ranbaxy’s Synasma 400–mg is priced at Rs 75, retail traders said.