Delhi High Court slams Centre
Delhi High Court slams CentreReuters

Drug price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has sought Rs 4,551 crore from various pharmaceutical companies for overcharging consumers for drugs.

The amount has been sought till February 2016 from 1995, when the NPPA was set up.

The drug regulator, besides fixing the prices of controlled bulk drugs and formulation packs under the Drug (Price Control) Order, or DPCO, 2013, is also responsible for recovering the amounts overcharged by drug manufacturers for the controlled drugs.

"There are 1,389 cases where the NPPA has issued notices to pharmaceutical companies for overcharging for medicines," Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Hansraj Ahir was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying in the Lok Sabha Tuesday.

The minister said a sum of Rs 4,935.92 crore has been demanded as "overcharged amount including interest whenever updated," out of which Rs 384.91 crore has been realised till February-end this year.

"The outstanding amount is Rs 4,551.01 crore as on Feb. 29, 2016, and Rs 3,698.32 crore, representing about 82 per cent of the total outstanding amount, is under litigation in various high courts and Supreme Court," he said.

He added the NPPA is actively pursuing the court cases.

The NPPA had reportedly warned of action against manufacturers for price violation, as it found over 4,700 medicines had been priced higher than the permitted limits.

During an exercise by the NPPA to observe price movement of medicines during the month of August 2015, it reported 4,724 pharma Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) out of the 1,01,418 SKUs were found to have charged beyond the limit permitted by the DPCO of 2013.

"After ascertaining status in respect of the cases observed for price violation from the manufacturers concerned, the NPPA will take necessary action in such cases where price violation has been established under provisions of DPCO 2013," the NPPA said.