The retail price of various syringes are often marked up as much as 655% compared to the price at which distributors purchase them, an analysis by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority said.

The regulatory body, which analysed data from official sources and manufacturers and importers on the trade margins of these products, said that distributors on an average pay Rs 14.92 for 50 ml hypodermic disposable needles, which are then sold for Rs 65.13. These needles are also marked up the most, sold with 270% trade margin on an average, the pricing body said. Insulin pen needles are marked up the least, with an average trade margin of 57%. The maximum trade margins, depending on the type of syringe, varies between 214% and 1,251%, according to the regulator.

“The reason for these markups is that the market got distorted some years ago,” Pavan Choudhary, the President of the Medical Technology Association of India, told PTI. “Most companies could not sustain without following this trend of high trade margins.” Choudhary’s organisation is a lobbyist for several research-based medical technology companies.

This practice is not justified and the Medical Technology Association had endorsed a report that the Department of Pharmaceuticals had published in 2016, Choudhary said, adding that the department’s proposals would “dramatically” reduce the prices of syringes and needles without creating a shortage.

A lobby group of domestic syringe and needle manufacturers had voluntarily decided in December 2017 to reduce the retail price by more than 50% amid speculation that the government would control the prices of more medical devices, The Economic Times reported. The All India Syringes and Needles Manufacturers Association had put a 75% limit on distributor and retailer margins.