The NPPA( National Pharmaceutical Pricing authority) in 2018 had capped the price for Heparin. But in this pandemic period, NPPA has allowed the hike in prices of Heparin by 50 percent till December 31. This was done to mitigate the shortage of the drug in the Indian market. The shortage of the heparin drug in the market is a result of the problems faced by the drug manufacturers who are unable to cope up with the drastic hike in prices of the the APIs( Active pharmaceutical ingredients) which is majorly imported.
What is Heparin and why is it important at present?
Heparin is a blood thinner used as an anticoagulant. It is used to prevent blood clots after surgery, during dialysis, during blood transfusions, when collecting blood samples, or when a person is unable to move for a long time.
In the current pandemic situation too, heparin has an important role to play.The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare included the drug in its clinical management guidelines for the treatment of Covid-19 patients in the ICU.
Why NPPA has allowed the manufacturers to hike up the prices of heparin?
This step was taken to mitigate the shortage of the drug in the indian market.The Indian manufacturers were unwilling to continue the production of the drug simply because they could not cope up with the rising prices of the most important raw material to manufacture the drug i.e. API( Active pharmaceutical ingredients. APIs are the active ingredients contained in a drug which gives the drug it’s theraptic use.
The Sodium API of heparin is mostly imported from China. But due to the global outbreak of Corona virus China has also not able to manufacture enough APIs( because the country was under lockdown) the prices of these APIs has increased manifold. And so has the cost of manufacturing the drug in India is increased. That’s why some of the drug manufacturing companies were demanding hike in the prices of the drug. Some of the Indian companies marketing heparin products in India are Gland Pharma, Biological E, Samarth Lifesciences, Abbott Healthcare, Troikaa Pharmaceuticals and Celon Labs .
What role does China play here?
India heavily relies on China for various APIs used to manufacture drugs in India especially antibiotics and vitamins. But since the past three months most of the world countries including China have suffered a huge setback when it comes to their economy.
China was under lockdown for about 2 months in which all the industries were shut down. During this period China had not been producing anything in their factories. Though after the lockdown was lifted, China has taken up the momentum. But it will take time to get things back to normal.
Since Chinese drug manufacturers were not producing the APIs in the lockdown period there has been a shortage of APIs in the global market. But the demand of APIs is ever- increasing. The reducing supply and increasing demand has led to hike in the price of the Chinese APIs which is the distress of indian drug manufacturers. But the recent permit by the NPA to hike up the prices of heparin gave them a sigh of relief.
Some people might think that the hike in prices of Chinese APIs is due to the indo- China tensions along the LAC. But this is not true indeed. Industry associations have said that this has nothing to with indo- China tenisons along the border. The lockdown in China leading to the shut down of Chinese industries is the prime cause behind the hike of prices.
Will prices of other drugs also hike in future?
Yes, it is possible. If the demand is growing and if the supply is not met, oher drugs also may get expensive. And consequently the cost of treatment of Covid-19 patients. But it is too soon to say which drugs’s prices will hike and how much.