News Excerpt
Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory has become 12th State today where the Price Monitoring & Resource Unit (PMRU) has been set up by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

Pre-Connect
•    Pharmaceutical Industry has grown many folds in the recent past. With announcement of new National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy, 2012 and the DPCO, 2013, there has been a shift of regulation of prices from economic and cost-based criteria to essentiality and market-based criteria.
•    It entails enormous task of creating and maintaining data base and strengthening the existing monitoring system of NPPA.
•    Pronab Sen Task Force (2005) and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers has strongly recommended for establishment of a live linkage of NPPA with the State Drug Controllers (SDCs) through a dedicated Price Monitoring Cell.
•    Therefore, NPPA has revised, with the approval of Department of Pharmaceuticals, the existing scheme and also by renaming it as Consumer Awareness, Publicity and Price Monitoring (CAPPM). It will be implemented at the Central level by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and at the State level by the registered societies of Price Monitoring and Resource Units (PMRUs).
•    Accordingly, the Government has started setting up PMRUs, as a registered society, at the State/Union Territories under Central Sector Scheme of CAPPM that would provide all necessary support to the State Drug Controllers and NPPA. Each Unit will function under the direct supervision of the concerned State Drug Controller.
•    PMRUs have already been set up by NPPA in 11 States, including, Kerala, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Nagaland, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Mizoram.

Objective of PMRUs
    To provide necessary technical assistance to the State Drug Controllers and NPPA towards:
o    Monitoring the notified prices of medicines, detection of violation of the provisions of DPCO, pricing compliance and ensuring availability of medicines;
o    Monitoring the price movement of scheduled and non-scheduled formulations
o    Collection and compilation of market-based data of scheduled as well as non-scheduled formulations and analyse them.
o    Conduct training, seminars and workshops at the State and District levels for consumer awareness and publicity.
    The PMRUs will render necessary technical assistance to the State Drug Controllers and NPPA, the Units will, however, have no authority to reach out, communicate and interact with any of the pharma industry.

Highlights
    The PMRU shall function under the direct control and supervision of State Drug Controller of Jammu & Kashmir.
    The unit shall be funded by NPPA for its recurring and non-recurring expenses.  
    The PMRU shall help NPPA and State Drug Controller in ensuring availability and accessibility of medicines at affordable prices.
    PMRU, J&K will assist NPPA and Governments in checking overpricing and identifying causes & addressing local issues of shortages/hoarding in the current situation when country is fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO)
The Drugs Prices Control Order, 1995 is an order issued by the Government of India under Essential Commodities Act, 1955 to regulate the prices of drugs.
The Order interalia provides the list of price-controlled drugs, procedures for fixation of prices of drugs, method of implementation of prices fixed by Government, penalties for contravention of provisions etc. For the purpose of implementing provisions of DPCO, powers of Govt. have been vested in NPPA. Later, the Drugs (Prices Control) Order (DPCO) 2013 was notified.
Not all drugs are under price control of DPCO. The National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011 is adopted as the primary basis for determining essentiality, which constitutes the list of scheduled medicines for the purpose of price control. However, the prices of other drugs can be regulated, if warranted in public interest.

National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA)
It was established in 1997 as an independent body of experts as per the decision taken by the Cabinet committee in September 1994 while reviewing Drug Policy. The Authority, interalia, has been entrusted with the task of fixation/revision of prices of pharmaceutical products (bulk drugs and formulations), enforcement of provisions of the Drugs (Prices Control) Order and monitoring of the prices of controlled and decontrolled drugs in the country.
The manufacturer of a non-scheduled drugs (drugs not under direct price control) is not required to take price approvals from NPPA for such drugs. However, NPPA is required to monitor the prices of such drugs and take corrective measures where warranted and there includes the power to fix and regulate such prices.