This article appeared in The Times of India –

NEW DELHI: The Centre has denied that prices of drugs have shot up in last six months, countering the allegations of opposition MPs who forced a discussion on the issue inLokSabha on Thursday.

Chemicals and fertilizers minister Ananth Kumar said the Centre has brought 175 drugs under price control in last six months, taking the list of drugs under control to 617. He said 3,000 outlets will be set up across the country to exclusively sell generic drugs and urged states to sign MoUs with the Centre.

He dubbed the allegations that drug prices had “sky rocketed” under the NDA government as a “misinformation” campaign.

Health minister JP Nadda said by next month, the Centre will come out with a new list of life-saving drugs whose prices would be controlled.

The response came after Congress MPs RanjeetRanjan and SusmitaDev alleged that the government had allowed a big hike in drug prices including those of diabetes, HIV and heart ailments. The hike has been attributed to the government withdrawing the guidelines that allowed the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to determine the prices of a set of essential medicines.

They targeted the Centre for the 17 deaths in botched-up sterilization cases in Chhattisgarh. With the government saying that the deaths were because of substandard medicines, the Congress MPs said the reason for spurious medicines was the rise in drug prices.
Health minster J P Nadda promised a review of the way medical camps are held to prevent Chhattisgarh-type incidents in future.

He added that government would come out by January with a new list of life-saving drugs whose prices would be controlled.

Responding to allegations that NPPA withdrew guidelines which were brought in to bring down prices of medicines used for treating cancer, cardiovascular diseases, HIV and diabetes, the government said it has opted for a “middle road” by bringing in more drugs under control while also ensuring that the pharmaceutical companies do not run into losses.