During the hearing on issues related to the pandemic on Tuesday, the Supreme Court flagged differential pricing for vaccines, and Directed the central government to clarify in its affidavit the basis and rationale for pricing.
One of the three judges on the Bench, Justice Ravindra Bhat, called on Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to explore legislative measures to address the issue.There are powers under the Drugs Control Act and Patents Act. This is a pandemic and a national crisis. If this is not the time to invoke such powers, what is the time? Justice Bhat said.
How does the Government Regulate the Pricing of Drugs
To ensure accessibility, the pricing of essential drugs is regulated centrally through The Essential Commodities Act, 1955. Under Section 3 of the Act, the government has enacted the Drugs order. The DPCO lists over 800 drugs as essential in its schedule, and has capped their prices. The capping of prices is done based on a formula that is worked out in each case by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority(NPPA),.