An Indian government panel recommended that the price of patented medicines in the country should be based on the country's per capita income. At present, only the prices of drugs listed on the country's National List of Essential Medicines are monitored. "If we compare the per-capita income with the prices of patented medicines in countries like Australia or France, prices in India are comparatively high and hence, they need to be regulated," remarked a senior ministry official who declined to be identified.
In its report, the panel proposed the formation of a committee headed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority chairman to determine the price of patented drugs. "Each decision on pricing should be taken on case to case basis, looking at factors like availability of equivalent therapies in India," argued Pharmexcil executive director P.V. Appaji.
Sakti Selvaraj, public health activist with All India Drug Action Network, questioned the need for the government to be involved in price negotiations. "Hospitals can individually negotiate prices when they purchase in bulk and get up to 20-percent discounts," remarked Selvaraj, adding "when the government starts fixing the prices, cases for compulsory licensing will also get weaker." Ameet Hariani, from law firm Hariani & Co., suggested that stringent price controls could limit the availability of new drugs in India.
In January, the country's health ministry recommended  three anticancer drugs, Roche's Herceptin (trastuzumab), Bristol-Myers Squibb's Ixempra (ixabepilone) and Sprycel (dasatinib) for compulsory licensing. India also recently revoked the patents for Merck & Co. asthma drug  containing mometasone furoate, formoterol and heptaflouropropane and Pfizer's Sutent  (sunitinib) in response to challenges by companies such as Cipla.