Prices of specialty drugs for diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis and cancer have risen the most in the past 12 months, LocalCircles research shows

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  • From April 1, 2023, the price of a basket of essential medicines could rise sharply due to the annual change of the wholesale price index in 2022 to 12.12%.
  • This is the highest increase ever allowed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).
  • According to a survey by LocalCircles, 58% of respondents noted a price increase in the past 12 months for regularly purchased medications.

Consumers are reeling from the surge in drug prices over the past 12 months, according to a survey by community social media platform LocalCircles, even as the prices of a basket of essential drugs are set to rise from April 1.

The cabinet allows drug manufacturers to increase the ceiling prices of approximately 900 registered medicines (medicines), in line with the change in the annual Wholesale Price Index (WPI). According to the price regulator National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), the annual change in WPI in 2022 is 12.12% and so drug prices could also see a similar increase. reports state that this is the highest permitted hike ever.

According to the LocalCircles survey, 58% of respondents noted a price increase in the past 12 months for regularly purchased medications. For most respondents, the price increase was significant, exceeding 20%. In fact, 12% of respondents noted a price increase of more than 50% for most purchased medicines.

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Specialized medicines are becoming more expensive

The survey found that while consumers have seen price increases for all medicines, the majority of respondents say that prices of specialty medicines for diabetes, blood pressure (BP), arthritis, cancer, etc. have increased the most over the past year .

On an aggregated basis, 89% of the respondents experienced a significant price increase in the specialty medicines category, while 57% also experienced a significant price increase in the general medicines category, i.e. medicines for fever, cough, headache, eye drops, vitamins, etc.

Moreover, not only allopathic medicines have become more expensive – 2% of respondents also pointed to price increases for Ayurveda and homeopathic medicines, the survey found.

Customers want a limit on trade margins

Respondents expressed concern about the huge gap between drug sales price and MRP (maximum sales price) and 55% of respondents asked for a 50% limit on trade margins, while 21% asked for a limit of 100% on the trade margins.

“People feel that the MRPs, at least with a cap on the trade margin, will become more realistic and that many consumers who may currently be overpaying will end up paying a more reasonable price for the drugs,” LocalCircles said.

According to the survey, 56% of respondents reported that the MRP of medicines regularly taken by them or their family members has increased over the past 12 months. 8% of respondents noted an increase of 50% or more in MRP.

The LocalCircles survey received more than 34,000 responses from consumers across 323 districts of India. 46% of respondents came from Tier 1 cities, 30% came from Tier 2, and 24% came from Tier 3 and 4 districts.

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