THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state drugs control department on Monday held meeting with representatives of top drug companies and directed them to sell medicines at the revised rates fixed by the central government. The meeting convened by state drugs controller was attended by representatives of about 50 companies including those from Mumbai and Chennai.
The meeting came in the wake of the complaints that despite notifications issued by the Centre in the first week and last week of June, revising the prices of several drugs, many retailers were still selling the medicines at higher price. At the meeting, the companies agreed to ask the retailers and distributors to sell medicines at revised rates.
The drugs control department has warned of strict action against those violating the directive including registration of cases under the Essential Commodities Act. The companies assured that they would take steps to compensate the retailers and distributors who might incur losses while complying with the direction.
In the first lot, the Central Government had reduced the prices of 25 essential drugs. In the last week of June another notification was issued about 30 odd drugs. Despite these notifications most medical shops across the state were continuing to sell these drugs at old Maximum Retail Price (MRP).
The reduced price difference ranged from Rs 2 to Rs 500 for medicines including those for treating cancer, infections including cold and allergy, epilepsy, gastrointestinal disorders, tumours, fungal infections and immune suppressants. The authorities had not gone for sudden crackdown against medical shops fearing that it would result in shortage of essential drugs. Inspections were also carried out at some places during this period.
As many as 19,000 medical shops across the state had been asked to charge the revised price and not the MRP printed on packs and strips. Conducting inspections in all outlets during a short period was not possible because of staff shortage. At the moment the drugs control department 41 inspectors who are responsible for covering 19,000 medical stores. Ideally, the state requires more than 200 drug inspectors.