March 7: Drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has taken note of the situation in the country where needles and syringes are being sold at inflated prices. According to the NPPA findings, maximum retail prices (MRP) are inflated over 1000 per cent over the ex-factory or price to distributor (PTD).
Syringe MRPs are marked up on an average of between 214 percent and 664 per cent, and prices are influenced by their types. The price of needles ranged from 57 per cent to 356 per cent while the average mark ups for the commonly used hypodermic disposable syringes are around 480 per cent over PTD, a MoneyControl report said.
For 5 ml specification of hypodermic disposable syringes with needle, the maximum trade margin was as high as 1251 percent, or 12 times the cost of PTD. The huge variation between ex factory or landed price of consumables and medical devices to the MRP or the price to the patient, indicates complicity between manufacturers, distributors and hospitals to alter prices. Studies by NPPA had earlier too found such variations.
According to the report quoting Rajiv Nath, President of Association of Syringes and Needles Manufacturers (AiSNMA), the high trade margin is motivated by an unhealthy race to attain hospital and retail customers by alluring them with a higher trade margins when compared to the competing brands.
In a bid to avoid price caps by the drug pricing regulator, as many as 16 domestic syringe and needle manufacturers under AiSNMA had earlier decided to bring down the prices of their product by cutting down trade margins to 75 per cent. Prominent multinational manufacturers like BD and Braun had kept away from such an arrangement, while some dropped off as they feared losing hospital accounts.
The Medical Technology Association of India (MTaI), which represents MNC companies, said that, as proposed by AiSNMA, it will not support self regulation of syringe prices as it is not a viable solution for enabling patient access to advanced medical technology products, reports added. It also added that self-regulation will not be an industry-wide phenomenon. It would bring new tilts and distortions in the absence of government’s directive, MTal was quoted as saying by the report.
The All India Drugs Action network (AIDAN), a group of healthcare-focused NGOs, shared its concerns over the inflated prices of commonly used syringes and needles, and said that it has moved the government to implement price controls.