The Union chemicals minister Ram Vilas Paswan is putting all pressure on the Group of Ministers (GoM) to clear the pending pharmaceutical policy, which he has been trying to make it reality over the last four years.

Besides writing another letter recently to the GoM for a final call on the policy, Paswan has openly blamed it on the powerful lobby of the industry for thwarting the attempt to finalise long-pending policy.

"We have been trying hard to get the policy cleared for long. But it is still stuck with the Cabinet. You know, the private lobby is so strong and they have been trying to stop it. We wanted to make affordable the drugs to the common people. Though the industry offered to cut the profit margins on 800 drugs some years back, it is still to be fully made into effect," he said recently at a public gathering.

Sources in the Pharmaceutical Department disclosed that the minister had sent another letter sometime last month pressing for an early date of the GoM to clear the policy, as the elections are approaching. "It has become almost a routine to write letter to the GoM every month, but in futile. We are still trying," a senior official said.

Immediately after the short Parliament session to present the vote-on-account from next week, the code of conduct is likely to be clamped by the end of this month along with the announcement of the elections. If the GoM cannot meet this month, which is unlikely, the policy cannot be announced and the fate would then depend on the next government.

The Cabinet Note on draft National Pharmaceuticals Policy – 2006 has been referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) for its examination in January 2007. So far four meetings of GoM have been held on 10 April 2007, 12 September 2007, 30 January 2008 and 30 April, 2008. Though the next meeting of the GoM was expected to finalise the policy, no date could be fixed for the meeting yet.

Paswan, who wanted to bring 354 drugs under price control against the present set of 74 through the policy, has been pressing for the same as one of his pet agendas and emerge as a champion for the masses. He had so far written several letters to the GoM and twice to the Prime Minister urging for an early call on the policy. In the recent past, he did not mince words in coming down heavily on the private lobby, especially led by big pharma majors, for thwarting the policy.