The rise in prices of essential medicines, including those used for treatment of tuberculosis, AIDS and diabetes, resulting from price decontrol of 108 drugs was today raised in Rajya Sabha with entire Opposition seeking government’s response on the matter.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, P Rajeeve (CPI-M) said common man was suffering due to hike in prices of essential medicines used to treat tuberculosis, AIDS, diabetes and heart ailments.
He said the price of anti-cancer drug Glivec has gone up from Rs 8,500 to Rs 1.08 lakh while rates of Plavix, used to treat blood pressure and heart ailments, will cost Rs 1,615 against Rs 147 earlier. Anti-rabies injection, Kamrab, priced at Rs 2,670 will now cost Rs 7,000.
He said the price shot up after the government directed the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), an autonomous body, to withdraw its May 2014 guidelines on drug price control.
“This has happened because of pressure of pharmaceutical companies,” he alleged, adding the government is working for monopolies and is totally against common man.
NPPA had capped the prices of these 108 drugs, in addition to the already listed 800 essential drugs, to improve their affordability.
Members for almost all opposition parties associated themselves with the issue.
Anand Sharma (Cong) said the issue raised is a serious matter and there should be a discussion on it in the House.
Noting that the issue concerns poor people who do not have access to life saving medicines, he said, “The House must take note of it and discuss it urgently.”
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) wanted the government to give an assurance that it will get back to the House on the issue.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said it was for the government to respond and he cannot compel it to do so.
Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said a debate is required on the serious issue.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the anguish of the members will be conveyed to the minister concerned.