Demands that the NPPA be made into a statutory body to ensure the independence and integrity of the regulator
Pratap Vikram Singh | March 1, 2018 | New Delhi
All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) has accused US-based multinational firms in healthcare for running a malicious campaign against National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and the transfer of its chairman Bhupendra Singh. The government move would adversely impact the NPPA's ongoing work against unethical profiteering by pharmaceutical companies, device makers and corporate hospitals, the AIDAN said in a statement.
According to a government notification issued on Wednesday, the appointments committee of the cabinet has transferred Singh to National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention in the rank and pay of additional secretary.
"The NPPA under the governance of Injeti Srinivas (former chairman) and Singh showered tremendous leadership. Srinivas was transferred even before the completion of one year following the price regulation of critical cardiac and diabetes medicines through public interest of the DPCO. During his term, Singh has taken many positive steps to ensure affordability of medicines and medical devices that discomforted the industry," the AIDAN, a non-governmental organisation working towards increasing access and rational use of essential medicines, said.
Notably, the NPPA undertook landmark price control of stents and knee implants. There was greater accountability to the public because of increased transparency and responsiveness to grievances of patients and the industry.
The NPPA, the AIDAN said, also saw unprecedented success in the courts with its stands vindicated by favourable judgments passed by the supreme court and high courts in most cases.
Of late, the NPPA took a proactive role in initiating monitoring of high margins charged by private hospitals in an effort to curb unethical profiteering.
"We fear that Singh's transfer in total disregard to the public interest is due to the pressure from the industry and corporate hospital lobby," the AIDAN said.
The pharmaceutical industry has long sought to undermine and weaken the NPPA in order to enable uninhibited profiteering and circumvention of the law. The recent price revise of coronary stents angered the US-based MNCs which ran a malicious campaign against the regulatory authority, the AIDAN said.
"The final precipitating factor, we believe, was the report analysing bills of four patients and which exposed the gross overcharging and misconduct of private hospitals. In this same report, the NPPA appealed for policy intervention to correct the injustice towards patients as it had reached the limits of its mandate," the non-governmental organisation said.
The AIDAN urged the government to reconsider its decision and allow Singh to complete his three year term at the NPPA. It also demanded that the NPPA be made into a statutory body along with fixed term periods for the chairman and leadership to ensure the independence and integrity of the regulator.
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