Exorbitantly priced patented drugs for lifestyle diseases, currently being imported by pharma
 multinationals, may become cheaper.

Sources said a committee set up by the pharmaceuticals department has decided that ‘‘a differential pricing mechanism will be in place soon for imported patented drugs which will particularly benefit the public health system’’.

Under this mechanism, there will be two sets of prices declared by the company after negotiations with the government. ‘‘The first will be the market price declared by the company, while the second will be negotiated by the government for its bulk procurement programme for government hospitals and below the poverty line (BPL) families,’’ sources said.

So prices of imported patented drugs like Tarceva and Glivec for cancer and Januvia for diabetes may be substantially lower, particularly for the public health system. At present, these drugs because of their high prices, are out of reach for the common man.

This is the first instance of the government initiating an exercise to negotiate prices of imported drugs, and becomes important with an expanding market and more patents being granted to MNCs in the country. The committee is meeting pharma MNCs like Roche, Eli Lilly, Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline on Friday to discuss the draft recommendations and finalize parameters for fixing the benchmark prices. The committee was set up two years ago with an intention to keep a check on high prices of imported medicines.

‘‘The prices will not be controlled by the government but there will be price management of imported drugs, which becomes imperative in cases where the drug has a complete monopoly in the market. We do not want patients to suffer,’’ the sources added.

Besides the pharma ministry, the committee comprises of officials from National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority, department of industrial policy and promotion, and health ministry.