The chairman of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Agency said that the body was not consulted on the Centre’s proposal to dismantle it. Bhupender Singh said that the NPAA, established in 1997 to monitor the prices of essential drugs, was not part of the two meetings held to discuss the proposal, The Hindu reported.

“Both meetings were held at short notice,” Singh said. “This has been a rushed decision. For any policy change, there needs to be consultation,” he said, adding that the file was currently pending with the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers for approval.

This came even as a civil society group – the All India Drug Action Network – served legal notices to the secretaries of the ministries of health, chemicals and fertilisers and commerce as well as National Institution for Transforming India Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant over the matter. On October 19, the four officials decided to dismantle the NPAA and said the power to regulate drug prices will be “vested with the government”.

The notice said that the Supreme Court had already passed a “number of orders” on price controls and said the matter was currently being heard by the judiciary. The final hearing of the case is expected to take place in December. At the meeting, it was also decided that the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation would now consult the Niti Aayog CEO for the reissue of licences and the approval of new drugs.

Medicines may become more expensive in India as a result of the major overhaul of the drug pricing policy being planned. Discussions within the government have also upset health activists working on drug pricing. AIDAN activist Malini Aisola said it was clear that the shift in policy was geared towards “one-sided promotion” of the pharmaceutical industry.