An expert group on oncology is due to meet on Tuesday and reportedly contemplating adding top cancer drugs in India’s revised National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), says an Economic Times report. The expert group meeting will consider including the World Health Organisation’s revised list of essential medicines like popular biosimilars for cancer cure like bevacizumab or trastuzumab and treatments like immunotherapy in NLEM, it added.
The list is reviewed every three years to include or exclude drugs and the inclusion of new cancer therapies is significant amid data showing that the country loses 7,00,000 lives annually to the disease, the ET report said.
Companies such as Biocon, Dr Reddy’s, Cadila Healthcare and Reliance Lifesciences are actively focusing on the biosimilars market, it said.
The government’s effort to ensure that these new therapies should be available in adequate numbers, assured quality and regulated prices is in line with its move to cap trade margins on more drugs, the report said.
Currently 57 anti-cancer drugs are on the NLEM. Also, 42 non-scheduled anti-cancer medicines, which are not on the NLEM, were selected for price regulation last year by restricting trade margin on the selling price up to 30 percent, the ET report added.
The move seeking to curb profiteering on vital medicines has reduced prices of cancer drugs by 85 percent, covering 72 formulations and 355 brands like carfilzomib, erlotinab, pemetrexed, epirubicin and leuprolide acetate, the report said.
Once shortlisted, the new therapies for the NLEM would be put forth before various stakeholders in a meeting to be held in February, it added.-CNBC Tv 18