- Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
- Issues related to health.
- Protection of the vulnerable sections of the society.
Kerala sets up drug price monitor:
What to study?
- For Prelims: Proposed unit, role, objectives and composition.
- For Mains: Need for such units, significance, issues involved and the need for drug price monitoring, relevance of DPCO.
Context: Kerala has become the first State to set up a price monitoring and research unit (PMRU) to track violation of prices of essential drugs and medical devices under the Drugs Price Control Order (DPCO).
Background: The move comes more than five years after the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) proposed such a system for the States and the Union Territories.
The State Health Secretary would be the Chairman of the society and the Drugs Controller would be its member secretary. Its members include a State government representative, representatives of private pharmaceutical companies, and those from consumer rights protection fora. The society would also have an executive committee headed by the Drugs Controller.
The new watchdog will offer technical help to the State Drug Controllers and the NPPA to monitor notified prices of medicines, detect violation of the provisions of the DPCO, look at price compliance, collect test samples of medicines, and collect and compile market-based data of scheduled as well as non-scheduled formulations.
The suggestion to set up PMRUs was made against the backdrop of the lack of a field-level link between the NPPA and the State Drugs Controllers and State Drug Inspectors to monitor drug prices. Pharma companies have been accused of overcharging prices of drugs in the scheduled category fixed by the DPCO and those outside its ambit too.
Sources: the hindu.
Mains Question: Discuss the effectiveness of price capping methods for pharmaceutical products as a tool to ensure affordable healthcare? Suggest alternatives as well.