India’s National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has called for assistance from the general public in gathering evidence against drugmakers which it says have been overcharging for their products.

The NPPA has drawn up a list of 312 overpriced medicines whose manufacturers, importers or distributors have failed to respond to its request for information relating to the products’ pricing and formulation over the last six months, in spite of reminders and follow-up by the agency. As a result, it says that it is unable to fulfil the requirements of the Drug (Price Control) Order of 1995 (DPCO) for the agency to recover prices charged for drugs which are higher than the levels fixed or notified by the government.

Therefore, the NPPA has issued a public notice which “solicits the assistance of the general public in providing necessary information in these cases of overcharging against the companies…so that legitimate dues payable by these companies under the provisions of Para 13 of DPCO, 1995 and the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 are recovered,” it says.

It asks the public to provide information including the name of the company and the formulation, the price charged by the company, quantity sold and batch numbers.

Many of the companies involved are small local firms, but they also include international players such as Ranbaxy, Aurobindo, Cadila, Dr Reddy’s, Biochem, Emcure, Endo, Sun and Omega Biotech.

The agency also says that some of the over 1,000 cases of overcharging which it has uncovered have been settled and that around 75 are currently going through the courts. These include Wyeth’s Indian subsidiary, which had appealed an order by the Mumbai High Court for it to pay 13.20 crore rupees for charging too much for tetracycline hydrochloride from 1981 to 1987. The government’s assessment of the drug’s production and marketing costs are inaccurate, says the company.

- Last month, the NPPA also introduced pro-rata pricing, to prevent drugmakers avoiding charges of overpricing by changing the pack sizes and strengths of their price-controlled products.