Cancer is one of the leading causes of adult illness and death due to chronic non-communicable diseases in India. India is witnessing a steady rise in cancer incidence. The number of incident-cases has risen from 8 lakh in 2004 to an estimated 15 lakh (annually) by 2018. Even with nearly two third of patients eventually dying of this disease, an estimated 22.5 lakh patients are currently living with cancer in India.
Cancer was reported to account for the highest out of pocket expenditure among all diseases in 2014, a substantial portion of which is spent on drugs. It has also emerged as the major cause of distress financing among affected families leading to their impoverishment. In fact, some studies on India suggest that about 60 and 32 percent households’ resort to borrowing and contributions (from friends and relatives) respectively for cancer hospitalisation. Affordability of cancer medicines is therefore the most important determinant for equitable cancer care in the country.
The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), in its Meeting dated 26thFebruary, 2019, invoked extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order, 2013 to bring 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer drugs under price control, through Trade Margin Rationalisation.
So far, 57 anti-cancer drugs are already under price control as scheduled formulations. 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer medicines have now been selected for price regulation by restricting trade margin on the selling price (MRP) up to 30%. These would cover 72 formulations and 355 brands as per data available with NPPA. More data is being collected from hospitals and manufacturers to finalise the list.
The manufacturers have been given seven days to recalculate the prices and inform the NPPA, State Drug Controllers, Stuckist’s and retailers. The revised prices shall come into effect from 8thMarch, 2019.