Coronavirus outbreak: No price hikes of essential drugs, no shortage of key ingredients, confirms NPPA chief

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The number of cases infected with the Coronavirus or Covid-19 has risen to 30 in India.

Coronavirus outbreak in India: No price hikes of essential drugs and no shortage of key ingredients, confirms NPPA chief! As the Coronavirus outbreak is gripping fears among Indians, one common worry is: Will the prices of essential drugs go up?  The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has called all the claims of medicine price hikes "unsubstantiated", IE has reported. The monitoring body has also ruled out the claims of a shortage of key ingredients. The drug pricing regulator's chief has said that the authority has discussed the matter with multiple stakeholders to make sure the ingredients or drugs are not hoarded, the report further said.

 NPPA chairperson Shubhra Singh called all the news of price hike as unsubstantiated as the authority has not received any proper complaints. He added that the government is monitoring the situation and the efforts will be taken to ensure no shortage of the essential drugs on the sidelines of the India Pharma 2020 and India Medical Devices 2020 in Ahmedabad.

 In the meantime, a representation of 8 lakh chemists under the umbrella of the All India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists (AIOCD) has written to all the stakeholders such as its members, manufacturers, dealers and distributors expressing the shortage of surgical masks, and other products and subsequently price hikes.

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 The association's letter emphasized the shortage of items that are believed essential in prevention against Coronavirus such as N95 masks, surgical masks, alcohol-rich hand sanitizers, handwash, infrared thermometers. The association has written a separate letter to make these items available at a 'reasonable rate' to curb black marketing. 

 NPPA has invoked the Essential Commodities Act (EC Act) that ensures the delivery of certain goods or products, that have the potential to affect normal life if obstructed by hoarding or black marketing. The provisions of the act were brought in on the recommendations made by a standing committee set up by the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) over a month ago, according to the IE report.

The committee had observed the situation where several traders had begun to raise prices of some widely used raw materials and medicines, the English daily reported quoting unnamed sources. The committee had recommended the government to invoke the EC Act to prevent those traders to 'hoard' or from preventing an 'artificial scarcity.'

The number of cases infected with the Coronavirus or Covid-19 has risen to 31 in India. The central government has invoked visa restrictions for foreigners and has also issued travel guidelines for Indians traveling abroad.