Indian Health Ministry likely to expand list of essential medications, cap costs
- The Indian Health Ministry panel is meeting today to discuss adding more drugs to the National List of Essential Medications (NLEM), which means prices are capped.
- There are currently 348 drugs on the NLEM-- approximately 30% of the total number of drugs sold in India.
- The goal is to make drugs more affordable to poor people, especially the 70% of the population in India that lives on less than $2 per day.
The number of drugs in the NLEM is likely to consider to grow under the influence of Minister Narenda Modi, who is seen as having a populist approach to the pharmaceutical industry. Many manufacturers are affected by this decision to cap prices, including Pfizer, GSK, Abbott Labs and others. While most companies are not thrilled about this decision, India has a $15 billion pharmaceutical market. Very few pharma companies are willing to walk away from that. On the other hand, as of 2013, 30% of all drugs sold in India had price caps--and that number is about to increase At what point does it make sense to curtail participation in the Indian market? More time is needed to determine the answer.