Budget 2017: Drugs and medical devices to be available at reasonable prices

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Mumbai: The government plans to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules to ensure availability of drugs at reasonable prices and use of generic medicines, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced in the Union budget for 2017-18.

The minister also said that new rules will be formulated for medical devices, which will help in reducing costs of such devices. “These rules will be internationally harmonized and attract investment into this (medical devices) sector,” Jaitley said in his budget speech.

The government has already brought coronary stents under price control and asked the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority to fix its ceiling price. This move has been met with resistance from the makers of medical devices in the country.

“The Medical Council had recently amended its guidelines to encourage doctors to prescribe generic names of medicines. In the budget speech, it has been indicated that changes may also be introduced to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules along similar lines. This will be a significant change if introduced and pharma companies will have to alter their marketing strategies,” said Bhavik Narsana, partner at law firm, Khaitan & Co.

The government has also prepared an action plan to eliminate kala-azar and filariasis diseases by 2017-18, leprosy by 2018, and measles by 2020. Elimination of tuberculosis by 2025 has also been targeted.