The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, GoI has issued a notification in the form of an Office Memorandum, regulating the Maximum Retails Price of Pulse Oximeter, Blood Pressure Monitoring Machine, Nebulizer, Digital Thermometer and Glucometer.
As per the order, which accompanies a Gazette Notification, the Trade Margin at Price to Distributor has been capped at 70%.
The manufacturers as well as importers of the above named items have been asked to submit revised MRP in line with the order and details in the gazette notification. They have further been asked to issue the revised price list in a defined format to the State Drug Controller and Dealers, with a copy to the NPPA by 20 July.
The NPPA in its order dated 31 March 2020 notified that Pulse Oximeter, Blood Pressure Measuring Machine, Nebulizer, Digital Thermometer and Glucometer shall be governed under the provisions of DPCO 2013, w.e.f. 1 April 2020. The DCGI, DGHS were also of consensus that these devices fall under the essential category.
Thus the NPPA was also entrusted with the mandate to ensure the availability of all essential drugs at affordable prices, and keeping in view the evolving COVID pandemic, it was necessary to regulate the prices of these mentioned medical devices. Invoking Para 19 of the DPCO 2013, the government has put a cap on trade margins of the above mentioned devices at the first point of sale (Price to Distributor). The manufacturers have been directed to fix the maximum retail price based on the Trade Margin. The Trade Margin as per the given formula has been capped at 70%.
Manufacturers and Importers are required to submit the revised rates to the State Drug controller with a copy to the NPPA by 20 July.
At the onset of the second COVID 19 wave, it was noticed that the retail price (end user) of the Pulse Oximeter, Blood Pressure Monitoring Machine, Nebulizer, Digital Thermometer and Glucometer had jumped through the roof. Oximeters, which were sold at Rs 500-600 were now being sold at Rs 3,000-4000, and the MRP mentioned was also in the range of Rs. 3,500 – 4,500.
UPSC Aspirant and Social Activist Tilkesh Bhadala from Udaipur got going on conducting his own research on how the price was shooting through the roof – whereas all these items were classified under essential commodities, especially during COVID. The earlier NPPA regulation became redundant as it only capped MRP at 10 % and criteria to fix MRP was not checked upon. This became apparent on 21 April when he noticed that the oximeters were being sold at prices 150-300 times higher than the normal prices. The legal leverage was available but the regulation based on the unchecked MRP was ineffective.
“This was a direct case of price gouging during the pandemic, when market forces that usually determine the prices were distorted. This flaw could be plugged under the relevant clauses provided under DPCO Act 2013 (para 19-25) read with Essential Commodities Act 1995”, said Tilkesh.
Subsequent to his research on the pricing especially during the peak of the second wave, he collected information and submitted his reports to the authorities. The NPPA, on getting this information began collecting data regarding the Trade Margins for these five medical devices from the manufacturers/marketers/importers and noted that the margins ranging up to 709% from Price to Distributor to MRP level were reported.
Having regulated the price of Oxygen Concentrators on 3 June 2021 under the Trade Margin Rationalisation Approach, the same has now been done for these five devices in order to make them affordable during the evolving situation of COVID pandemic.
Data Compiled by Tilkesh Bhadala and UT from the NPPA official notification.
More about Tilkesh Bhadala
Tilkesh Bhadala was born on December 19, 1995 in Udaipur, Rajasthan. He from his school days is an avid debater and active participant in school activities. He has won several accolades, a selected few are mentioned below:
Beside this he participated actively in poem recitation, drawing, calligraphy, essay writing, quiz competition, trekking and secured meritorious positions in many of them.
He embarked on entrepreneurial journey just after passing out from school by founding SKYHITECH. He dropped out of college to pursue full time business as “non-practical approach” towards education did not appeal to him. He is a true believer that knowledge without application is “half knowledge”. His passion is to seek knowledge and to transform it into action for the betterment of humankind. In pursuit of this he has taken several small step initiatives mentioned below:
He has good observation skills and tries to seek the best possible way out through the application of knowledge. He is inquisitive about several fundamental contradictions that he faces and is keen to expand the horizon of his understanding and awareness through knowledge exploration. He seeks to serve the society either through Civil Services or through being a part of Civil Society.
Tilkesh Bhadala is a Social Worker and a UPSC Civil Services Aspirant. He is determined to dedicate his knowledge, efforts and experience towards helping people and ushering new reforms. He is a true
believer that knowledge without application is “half knowledge”.