New Delhi : The Delhi High Court sought the Centre’s response on a plea by pharma major Cipla against a notification capping the prices of the powdered form of its three asthma drugs.
Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva issued notice to the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers and the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) and sought their replies by May 12, the next date of hearing.
Cipla, represented by senior advocates Harish Salve and Pratibha M Singh, claimed that the price of the powdered form of its three asthma drugs were capped without following the proper procedure prescribed under the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013.
The company, in its plea, has contended that through an April 1 order, the NPPA has “wrongly attempted” to apply the ceiling price fixed for the metered dose inhalers (MDI), where the medicine is inhaled in aerosol form, to the powdered form of the three drugs.
During the hearing, the court asked the government whether the NPPA had by mistake included the dry powder inhaler (DPI) form with the MDI variety or was it a decision taken after application of mind.
In response to the court’s query, central government standing counsel Sanjeev Narula said the DPI variety was not erroneously clubbed with MDI in the notification revising the cap on their prices.
The three asthma drugs, affected by the NPPA order, are marketed and sold by Cipla under the brand names of Budecort, Tiova Rotacaps and Foracort.
Cipla has said that by the notification, the cap was applied by revising the earlier price which is allowed under the DPCO 2013.
But to revise a price, it has to be fixed or calculated by following the procedure laid down by the DPCO 2013, the pharma major has said in its plea.
The procedure laid down includes putting up of a draft ceiling price and draft working sheet on the NPPA website and then inviting comments from the concerned stakeholders, it said.
Prior to the April 1 order, the aerosol form of Budecort was sold for around Rs 250 (for 200 doses) and the powdered variety at Rs 72 for 30 capsules, the company told the court.
After the NPPA order, the prices of both aerosol and powder forms were revised to Rs 1.22 per metered dose which came to Rs 244 and Rs 36.6, respectively, a sharp fall for the powdered variety, Cipla told the court.
While the company told the court that it cannot avail the remedy of review available under the DPCO 2013, the government lawyer said that Cipla could seek review.