Sales of drugs for chronic ailments has increased since demonetisation, as patients tend to stock up medicines by exchanging old notes at pharmacies.Wikimedia commons

At least 800 drug formulations — derived from essential medicines — including those used in the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS  and cardiovascular diseases, are currently under price control by the government, the Press Trust of India reported.

This is a direct result of the amendment of Schedule 1 of the Drugs Price control Order (DPCO), 2013, for substituting the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 by NLEM 2015, which has caused more than 200 drugs to be added to the list.

"Earlier, 628 drug formulations were under price control under NLEM 2011.0 Now it has been increased to over 800," a senior official in the Pharmaceutical Department was quoted by the news agency as saying.

The official said fixing the ceiling price of these formulations by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) could take another two months.

A core committee constituted by the health ministry in December 2015 added 106 medicines to NLEM 2011, including those for cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiology and Hepatitis C

On March 4, drug price regulator NPPA reportedly fixed the price ceiling of 530 essential medicines resulting in the price reduction of 126 drugs by 40 percent.

The NPPA also fixed the price of 45 formulation packs, including those used to treat cancer, epilepsy, heartburn, eczema and bacterial infections.

The companies whose drugs were added to the price fixation list include drug majors such as Ranbaxy (now Sun Pharmaceutical Industries), Torrent Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Healthcare, Glenmark and Cadila Healthcare.

The NPPA fixes or revises the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulations and enforces the prices and availability of the medicines in the country.

It also monitors prices of decontrolled drugs — which are not under price control — to keep them at reasonable levels.