Instead of benefiting the customers, fixing of ceiling prices for essential drugs has given domestic pharmaceutical companies and drugs importers great leeway to hike the drug prices. Not surprisingly, the prices of essential drugs have shot up to the ceiling fixed by the government. Even chemists admit that ceilings provide a welcome reprieve for many consumers but also encumber other patients with added financial burden. For instance, before the ceilings, the Indian drug Ciphadroxil 500 mg was sold at the rate of Rs. 6.3 per capsule. Now, the capsules are being sold for as much as Rs. 10 per piece. Likewise, the price of antibiotics Ampicillin and Cloxacillin 500 mg capsules has been fixed at Rs 7.5 from an earlier rate of Rs 3.80.

The price of no drug has been fixed below the ceiling. The Department of Drug Administration (DDA) appears incapable of regulating drug prices.

If the government is unable to exercise a close control, there can be no justification for fixing maximum prices. DDA, for its part, complains of an acute shortage of manpower. But isn’t a government-run agency like Department of Drug Administration indulging in sheer hypocrisy by blaming the “government” itself? Isn’t it the concerned government body entrusted with the responsibility of regulating drug market prices? Both the DDA and the government need to wake up if the ceilings are to have their desired effect.