The panel, set up by the pharmaceutical department for working out a mechanism to negotiate the prices of drugs patented outside the country, has met the captains of select multinational companies to brief on its draft model, but the meeting failed to arrive at a final conclusion.

The committee headed by deputy secretary Paresh Johri met the representatives of MNCs like Roche, Eli Lilly, Aventis, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis recently to discuss on the draft mechanism prepared by the panel. Though the companies were open to the model and remained positive, a final commitment is to come from them yet, sources said.

The companies will revert to the panel with their suggestions in this regard, sources added, without going further into the details.

The panel is learnt to have finalised a model to fix the prices of imported drugs, patented outside, by dividing them into two groups.

For the first set of patented drugs, company can fix the prices while for the second set, mainly for public health system and lifestyle diseases, the price will be negotiated with the government. Prices will thus not be controlled by the government but there will be price management of imported drugs especially in the case of monopoly drugs.

It has been learnt that the companies are not averse to supplying the drugs in bulk to the government programmes at a lower rates, but companies did not want to have prices negotiated for all drugs being imported. They have assured support to the public health programmes.

Sources said the committee, comprising officials of NPPA, department of industrial policy and promotion, health ministry and the industry, will now soon finalise the recommendations. But it may not come into effect as it has to be included in the national pharmaceutical policy, still pending with the cabinet committee. The pharma department is also looking into the possibility of announcing it separately, once the report is cleared by the government.

The panel was set up in February 2007 with a mandate of finalising recommendations in three months. However, the report has been pending for over two years now, though held a series of meetings and the panel remained headless for long after the transfer of the official who chaired it first.