17 Nov 2021

Low-Cost Pharmaceuticals Availability in India

Post by uday patel

Well known for low-cost treatments, low-priced pharmaceuticals and medical devices are one of the factors behind the phenomenon. Pharmaceuticals are important and their cost matters in the treatment of major diseases. Many patients have to do away with medicine that could bring about faster cures because of the prohibitive cost of drugs.  

But in India, the drugs are not so costly at least those made domestically. To facilitate imports and keep the prices low, the Government adds minimal tax to them. This very much applies to therapeutics and devices. There is a concerted effort by the Government to keep the prices low in the case of therapeutics used by low-income groups.  

Manufacturing Pharmaceuticals in India

The Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme of the Government of India is to promote the production of medicines and devices within the country. This will make them much cheaper than imports. Our reliance on imports costs the exchequer valuable foreign exchange besides making the products expensive. With the impetus accorded the manufacturing base of API will increase, and we will be less dependent upon China and other Nations for these precious raw materials. This scheme encompasses twenty lakh crore rupees as incentives.     

India has more than 10,000 manufacturing units spread all over the country making active pharmaceutical ingredients, generic medicines, and branded formulations. This large manufacturing base will increase further thanks to incentives and directions provided by the GOI. There is an all-out effort to manufacture vital preparations not only by technology transfer but also by our own research.  This approach to becoming self-reliant in the medical field is realizable considering the fact that we have already become self-reliant on many common products and vaccines.        

Pharma Factory
Pharmaceutical Factory in India

Keeping in tandem with the positive approach, the Union Ministry of Health and Welfare has been allocated Rs. 73,932 crores besides a sum of Rs.2663 crore has been allocated for research to the Dept of Health Research in the Union Budget fiscal 2021-22.

The consumption of pharmaceutical products in India is expected to grow by over 9 percent annually. The increased domestic consumption will reflect positively upon the prices of drugs in the country.   Moreover, there is a constant endeavor by the dispensations to keep control of prices of the health formulations.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority

Set up in the year 1997, 29th August, the body acts as a regulatory mechanism to ensure the availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable rates. A committee was eventually set up to comprehend the mechanism of price control. The role of the committee under NPPA is a wide spectrum, and it will advise the Government in matters related to drug policy besides the regulatory functions mentioned above. NPPA frequently publishes a list of drugs available and their maximum purchase cost. There is a constant watch by the authority on decontrolled items and in case of overcharge of controlled items, it is responsible for recovery. To facilitate control NPPA has set up monitoring bodies pan India including in the Union Territories. This monitoring mechanism is for better safeguards against hoarding and overpricing.

Setting up of NPPA has been a commendable work of the Government and has resulted in low-cost treatment due to fair pricing of broad-spectrum medications. A number of Jan Ausodhi Kendra of retail shops have been set in all major cities of the country in order to sell low-cost generic products at affordable rates. 

Pharma Education & Research at NIPER

The government of India has set up (NIPER) National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research. The institute has statutory recognition by an act of Parliament, NIPER Act, 1998. Its functions are mentioned below:  

  • Innovation and R&D.
  • Support to innovate high value pharmaceuticals under GOI incentives.
  • Enhance Health Travel.
  • Make possible low treatment cost in comparison to US, Europe, and South Asia.
  • Infrastructure development.
  • Strengthen drug and health device manufacturing.
  • Develop expertise in low-cost generic patented drugs.
  • Encourage manufacturing without third party involvement in the process.

Generic Pharmaceuticals Production in India

The country is one of the largest manufactures of generic pharma products with 20 percent share in global exports valued at 24.40 billion USD. In the case of vaccines, the country is the largest producer in the World with exports ranging up to 62% of total demand.  

Production Linked Scheme

The aim of the scheme is to increase the production of high-value health products in the country. The targeted period is 2021 t0 2029. The acronym often used is PLI, and it translates to production-linked incentives.

PLI aims at increasing domestic manufacturing of drug intermediates, key starting materials, API, and medical devices. We are much reliant on imports for these products and domestic manufacturing will make us less dependent besides it will bring the prices under greater control. Under ambitious plans, there is an effort to create parks with production ease in focus for medical devices and related therapeutic products.    

Economical availability of medications relates to medical tourism since it is instrumental in reducing the overall price of various treatments. Patient travel to India is bound to increase with encouragement provided to manufacturing in this sector.

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