Government amends DPCO to protect costly patented drugs

According to latest directive from the government, innovative patented drugs brought in by drug maker – domestic or international, will be exempt from the Drug Price Control Order. The government has amended the DPCO to this effect and has issued a notification recently. This also applies to drugs known as ‘orphan drugs’ used to treat rare genetic disorders. These amendments have been made based on NITI Aayog’s recommendations, according to a report in Business Line. Normally the DPCO fixes the prices of scheduled drugs and continues to monitor its price at the retail level. That these orphan drugs have been exempted would mean that they would remain high cost. However, many organisations like the ‘Organisation for Rare Diseases’ in India (ORDA) and ‘Doctors without Borders’ have criticized this move by the government as they state that these drugs don’t have any generic competition; are manufactured by MNCs and will be out of reach for poor and middle class patients.