34 new drugs in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2022 have been brought under the Drug Prices Control Order by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers on Friday, 11 November, through a gazette notification.
The Union Health Ministry had released the revised NLEM in September 2022, when it had added 34 new drugs to the list, taking the total to 384 drugs.
What does this mean? Here's all you need to know.
How are the ceiling prices fixed?
The Drug Prices Control Order fixes “ceiling prices” for drugs based on the average amount it costs to retailers. The average price for retailers with a market share of over a percent is taken into consideration, and a small margin is added for the retailers.
Prices for which drugs are being fixed?
The prices of 384 drugs, including 34 new ones, are being standardised, including:
Teneligliptin (for diabetes)
Insulin Glargine (for diabetes)
Bendamustine Hydrochloride (for blood and lymph node cancers)
Irinotecan HCI Trihydrate (for colorectal and pancreatic cancers)
Lenalidomide (for cancer treatment)
Leuprolide acetate (for prostate cancer)
Has the price of only these 384 drugs been regulated?
The notification made it clear that medicines or drugs that are used for the same cause as those listed, and have similar salts or “analogues of an active ingredient” will be under the price cap too. This applies to vaccines too.
The notification read, “Innovation in medicine must be encouraged. Formulations developed through incremental innovation or novel drug delivery systems like lipid/liposomal formulations etc. should be considered as included only if specified in the list against any medicine.”
Why are the drugs being brought under the price ceiling?
The NLEM regulates the prices of essential medicines every three years so that the medicines can be made affordable and easily available.