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Our Bureau, Mumbai September 27 , 2018
The syringes and needle manufacturers have approached Chairman of National List of Essential Medicine (NLEM) Committee to include all types of syringes & needles in NLEM at the earliest so that they could come under price capping of MRP.

In a letter to Prof. Balram Bhargava, secretary, department of health research & DG, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), All India Syringes & Needle Manufacturers Association (AiSNMA) raised serious concerns regarding various news reports of exorbitant prices being charged to the hapless patients and the pleas of patient groups to address this exploitation.

Indian syringes & needle manufacturers have urged the government to impose a price cap to stop the exploitation of patients by hospitals. The price limit on needle and syringe would curb unethical practices in the medical field and overcharge of these products by hospitals.

“We want a level-playing field. Hospitals need not sell at the MRP and are free to sell under the Max Retail Price but Doctors have been blaming manufacturers for labeling products with high MRP. With price caps or cap on trade margins, our endeavour is to make the hospitals focus on making the procurement decision on the quality of the medical devices and their buying price for cost minimization rather than current skewed market where hospitals focus on margins to be made on higher MRPs and tend to seek profit maximisation. This has taken away the motivation of hospitals to be cost competitive and patients feel exploited leading to a trust deficit” said Rajiv Nath, president, AiSNMA

For the purpose of self-regulation and as responsible manufacturing, the domestic syringe manufacturers had earlier set a path breaking self regulatory precedent by deciding to voluntarily cap trade margins to maximum 75per cent over their discounted net ex-factory prices (including GST) and to implement this latest by 26th January, 2018 as a contribution to citizens of India, for the benefit of patients. This covers all categories of syringes & needles – disposable/auto disable/reuse prevention / needle stick prevention/insulin pen needle, etc.

But four companies – Lifelong Meditech along with MNC Manufacturers/Importers - Becton Dickinson, B Braun Medical and Nipro Medical were opposed to this self regulatory advisory.

"To stop Patient exploitation being carried out by some manufacturers / importers through unethical marketing, it is of utmost importance for the Government to include all types of syringes & needles in National List of Essential Medicines. Though, medical devices are engineering Products, they are being regulated as Drugs under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and syringes and needles are possibly more important than implants, as being used on almost all hospitalized patients. Syringes and needles are among the most commonly used device which account for huge bills. There is also a higher risk of reuse and misuse of syringes & needles leading to burden of disease when syringes & needles carry excessively high MRP and become unaffordable," said Vimal Khemka, secretary of AiSNMA.

“Since the product range is very large due to different variety and sizes, instead of an absolute price cap which may be impractical, we, at AISNMA, collectively seek capping of trade margin to maximum 75per cent on Ex-Factory prices for domestic manufacturer and on CIF value (landed cost) for overseas manufacturers on all types of syringes and needles, as this is more transparent and traceable in GST regime, being the 1st point of imposition of GST,” added Nath

This will give a level playing field for all the domestic manufacturers as well as with overseas manufacturers, and will cut down, more than 1000per cent mark up being currently charged at present, by some of the manufacturers/importers and having a huge price disparity of 3 times the MRP for the same products and specifications.

“This landmark initiative if carried forward speedily by NLEM committee will help benefit the common people at large and simultaneously boost domestic manufacturing, reduce motivation to reuse syringes, increase the market size and correct market dynamics to a cost based competitive procurement by hospitals. We urge the Government for carrying forward the process from NLEM listing to being declared a scheduled formulation to price capping via trade margin capping. This will ensure towards making these essential products available across the country at affordable prices.” added Nath.

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