>> Govt likely to cap retail price of swine flu drug
Industry News :
Govt likely to
cap retail price of swine flu drug THE government may cap the
retail price of anti-viral drug oseltamivir used for the treatment
of swine flu if market competition does not force the price down,
a senior official in the ministry of chemicals and fertilizers
The pharma industry, however, defended the pricing — ranging
from Rs 450 to Rs 800 for a five-day course — as reasonable
considering the shortage of the raw material.
“If prices do not behave for themselves than we will have to
intervene,” the government official said on condition of
India reported 150 fresh cases of swine flu on Tuesday.
Chemists said there is a near-monopoly scene in the market
despite the launch of the drug by Natco Pharma, Hetero Drugs and
Strides Arcolab. The only product available with most of the
licensed chemists is Hetero’s brand Fluvir, said Pradeep Singh of
New Delhi Medicos (a licensed chemist for selling oseltamivir) and
member of All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists.
Currently, a strip of 10 tablets of Hetero’s Fluvir cost Rs
449 while Cipla’s Virenza is priced at around Rs 800 for a pack of
20 rotacaps (powdered medication stored in a capsule) along with
an inhaler. Natco Pharma has launched its brand Natflu at a price
of Rs 480 for a bottle of 10 capsules.
A Natco official said the retail price includes excise
component along with margins for distribution and stockists. “The
price of the raw material also keeps fluctuating, and at times,
there is little raw material available,” he said.
While the open market prices remain high, the government
procurement price of oseltamivir has come down substantially from
Rs 343 to Rs 260 for 10 tablets since the outbreak of the disease
The lack of acceptance of second line drugs is also partly
responsible for low visibility of the drug. According to Mr Singh
of New Delhi Medicos, a second line drug Zanamivir, sold under
Cipla’s brand Virenza, is available but the demand is only for the
first line drugs.
The government is also exploring the possibility of involving
the public sector to manufacture the formulation as well as the
bulk drug required for the medicine.
Meanwhile, the country’s top drug regulator Drug Controller
General of India (DCGI) has asked four multinational drug makers —
Baxter, Novartis, Sanofi Aventis and Glaxosmithkline (GSK) — to
submit detailed dossiers for safety and efficacy review of their
vaccines for swine flu.
“The companies will soon start their bridge tests of the
vaccine on around 300 people in India under the supervision of
Indian Council of Medical Research,” DCGI Dr Surinder Singh said.
The DCGI will approve protocol for the study after reviewing the
According to health ministry estimates, so far 65,803 people
have been tested for swine flu in various government and private
laboratories across the country. Out of this, 12,334 people have
been found positive. India has reported 399 deaths due to swine
flu till Wednesday evening.
Government to take the steps if market competition does not force
the price down
Pharma industry defended the pricing as reasonable considering the
shortage of the raw material
Chemists say there is near-monopoly scene in the market
Govt also exploring the possibility of involving the public sector
to manufacture the formulation as well as the bulk drug required
for the medicine