In a bid to improve availability of essential drugs, the Central government has revised the ‘National List of Essential Medicines’ (NLEM) and slashed the prices of 39 commonly used drugs.
The prices were slashed for the anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, antiviral, antibacterial, antiretroviral, anti-TB drugs, and also for some that are used in Covid treatment.
The experts working on the NLEM list have deleted 16 odd drugs from the list.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been working for a long time to extend price control on medicines.
The commonly used drugs, which were brought under the price cap includes Teneligliptin — an anti diabetes drug, popular anti-TB drugs, Ivermectin — used in Covid treatment, Rotavirus vaccine, among others.
The government had begun an exercise for the revision of the NLEM, which was notified in 2015 and implemented in 2016.
It is a departure from the present practice, where all essential medicines automatically go under price control.
The Standing National Committee on Medicines was tasked with preparing the list of which medicines should be available in adequate numbers and assured quantity.
The committee headed by Balram Bhargava, Secretary in the Department of Health Research and Director General of the ICMR, send the list to a second committee comprising senior officials from NITI Aayog, Health Secretary and Secretary in the Department of Pharmaceuticals, which decides on which drugs are to be put under the price cap.