The government has told the Delhi high court that there was no basis to reports that it proposed to disband the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) or to delink the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) from the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).
However, the minutes of a meeting held in the health ministry on November 19, obtained through RTI, reveal that Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and secretaries of the departments of pharmaceuticals (DoP), industrial policy and promotion and health did decide that “DPCO may be delinked from the NLEM, and the NPPA in its present form and current function may be wound up and deployed in the DoP with a new mandate”.
According to RTI documents, the meeting held in Nirman Bhawan was to discuss “issues relating to the pharmaceutical sector in pursuance of the meeting held earlier on October 1, 2016 under the chairmanship of PM’s principal secretary”. The proceedings of the Nov 19 meeting go on to list “the decision taken on each of the items included in the minutes of the meeting held in PMO on October 1”.
The first item from the meeting taken up was the “Process of notification of essential medicines to be revisited and revamped. Secretary MH&FW to consult with CEO Niti Aayog, secretary DEA, secretary (pharma) before final decision is taken for inclusion under the DPCO”.
The decisions taken on this item were, “DPCO may be delinked from the NLEM, and the NPPA in its present form and current function may be wound up and deployed in the DoP with a new mandate. The right of regulating prices as per need would rest with the government”. Kant, health secretary CK Mishra, department of industrial promotion and policy secretary Ramesh Abhishek and DoP secretary Jai Priye Prakash were party to this decision.
The All India Drug Action Network filed an affidavit in HC in December 2016 bringing the move to wind up NPPA to the court’s notice. It sought direction from the court to the government to clarify its position. AIDAN also sought direction from the court to the government to desist from such moves. The government stated the averment related to dismantling of NPPA was false, and “does not have any basis as government has not taken any decision in this regard”.