At first, Kerala sets up drug price monitor

• In a first, the Kerala government has set up a price monitoring and research unit (PMRU) to track violation of prices of essential drugs and medical devices under Drugs Price and Control order.

• The move reportedly comes after the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority(NPPA) proposed such a system for states and union territories.

Key highlights of the monitoring process

• The state health secretary would chair the new society, and the drugs controller would be its member secretary.

• It would also include a state government representative, representatives of private pharmaceutical companies, and those from consumer rights protection fora.

• The society would also have an executive committee headed by the drugs controller.

• The new watchdog would provide technical help to the state drug controllers and the NPPA to monitor notified prices of medicines, detect violation of the provisions of the DPCO, look at price compliance, collect test samples of drugs, and collect and compile market-based data of scheduled as well as non-scheduled formulations.

• According to reports, incidents of pharma companies overcharging drugs in the scheduled category fixed by the DPCO and those outside its ambit has necessitated the new move.

• Moreover, the lack of a field-level link between the NPPA and the State Drugs Controllers and State Drug Inspectors to monitor drug prices mandates PMRU, says experts.

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Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Prelims level: PMRU and its mandate

Mains level: Need for an effective Pharma price monitoring agency

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