SHAFAQNA- In a major relief for cancer patients, the drug pricing regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has slashed the prices of some cancer drugs by upto 86 per cent.
The price of a drug called Iressa, which is manufactured by Astrazeneca Pharma India Limited and is used for the treatment of lung cancer, was around Rs 29,259, which has now been slashed to Rs 3,977. The price of another expensive drug for targeted cancer therapy Biceltis, manufactured by Emcure Pharmaceuticals, which is an antibody used to target cancer cells, has been reduced by over Rs 10,000. Price of chemotherapy drugs like Doceaqualip, manufactured by Intas Pharacetucals ltd, has been reduced by 37 per cent – from Rs 16,890 to Rs 10,560. The price of Dr Reddy’s tablet Levin used to treat blood cancer has been cut by 25 per cent.
Bhupendra Singh, chairman of NPPA said that more cancer drugs will soon come under price control. “Apart from cancer, important medicines used in the treatment of diabetes, bacterial infections and blood pressure have been capped by the government, thereby reducing the cost by an average of around 25 to 50 per cent,” he said. Since March 2016, prices of around 800 drugs have been slashed by the government.
A senior doctor from Tata Memorial Hospital said, “It is a big relief for cancer patients. Patients admitted in Tata get medicines for free or at a discounted rate, as we buy branded medicines in bulk at a 50 to 80 per cent discount, but for private patients it is always an expensive affair. There are several drugs, especially to treat leukemia, which the patient has to take for years. As they are often very expensive, patients often leave the treatment midway.”
In fact, doctors at Tata Memorial had taken the initiative and informed the government about several branded drugs being sold at a high price in the market and asked them to intervene. They also prepared a list of drugs whose prices could be reduced.
Focus on cancer treatment In December, the government decided to set up dedicated cancer treatment facilities in the cities of Chandigarh, Guwahati, Visakhapatnam, and Varanasi. The department of atomic energy, whose functioning is overseen directly by the prime minister’s office, has sanctioned a total of Rs 2,000 crore for the hospitals in the four cities.