Bombay High Court Urges Centre and National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority To Reconsider the Capping Prices of N-95 Masks

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The Bombay High Court questioned the Centre and National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority. It was regarding the cap on the price of N-95 masks considering the Drug Price Control Order. The Order states that the government will have to ensure the prices. The prices must not be increased by more than 10% of prices prevailing in the preceding 12 months.

Brief Facts of the Case

The NPPA was urged to reconsider its capping price of N-95 mask in the public interest. This reconsideration was urged by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde. The Division Bench urges this to NPPA in the public interest. It is also ensuring that hoarding, as well as black marketing of these masks, does not take place. The bench directs NPPA to take a proper decision, preferably within ten days but not beyond two weeks.

Issues & Arguments

The Court had heard a PIL filed by Sucheta Dalal and Anjali Damania. They are a journalist and activist, respectively. They sought directions against hoarding, and black marketing of N-95 masks in the State.

Senior Advocate Mihir Desai appeared on behalf of the petitioners. Advocate Mihir Joshi also appeared on behalf of the petitioners. Anil Singh appeared on behalf of the Union of India and NPPA. Anil Singh is the Additional Solicitor General. He submitted that as per Centre’s intervention, NPPA issued an advisory on May 21. It was contended that manufacturers and importers of masks have reduced their prices up to 47%.

The petitioner states that the advisory issued by NPPA failed to implement clause 20. The manufactures of N95 masks allowed to increase prices substantially. She contends that prices bloated to Rs.199 per mask. Even though the average charge of manufacturing was Rs.28.57 per mask, it was no difference that manufacturers were willing to reduce the MRP by close to 50%. This reduction was expected without protest.

Clause 20 of the DPCO states that the government would oversee the MRPs of all the medical devices. That it would ensure that no manufacturer or importer increases the MRP of a drug more than 10% of MRP during the preceding 12 months. Furthermore, where the increase is beyond 10% of MRP, it shall reduce the same to the level of 10% of MRP for the next 12 months.

Assertions in the PIL

The PIL asserts that the petitioners want to get PPE Kits and N-95 masks. The kits and masks are required for distribution amongst the frontline workers in Mumbai. It is to help them during the ongoing crisis. The petitioners were in shock to witness black marketing and profiteering. They further noticed the failure of the State machinery to implement the Order dated March 13, 2020 under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.


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