20 May 2021: Will fix formula for oxygen concentrators' pricing in 7-days: Government
The Indian government told the Delhi High Court today that it has started the process to fix a formula for the pricing of oxygen concentrators.
The High Court had earlier this week asked the central government to come up with a formula to determine prices of oxygen concentrators, that are in high demand during India's devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Details: NPPA recently held a meeting over this issue: Centre
In its affidavit, the Centre said the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) on Wednesday held a meeting with industry stakeholders in this regard.
The authority is expected to finalize the formula in seven days, it informed the court.
"This formula would be arrived at after due consultation with the manufacturers/importers and other stakeholders," the Centre said, according to a report by ThePrint.
Context: Plea filed by Delhi resident over hoarding, black marketing
The Centre filed this affidavit in response to a plea by a Delhi resident - Manisha Chauhan - who had raised issues of hoarding and black marketing of drugs and medical equipment needed for COVID-19 treatment.
The Delhi HC had on Monday asked the Centre to prepare a formula, saying, "There has to be some limit to it (the price). It cannot be limitless."
Fact: 'People can't be taken for a ride'
"As a government, it is your responsibility that people are actually able to afford the product and not have to pay through their nose. They can't be taken for a ride," a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh had said at the time.
Centre's take: Centre had earlier opposed fixing a maximum price
However, the Centre had contended in the court that fixing a maximum price for medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators could adversely impact their availability in the market.
It said their imports would be affected as there is a global shortage and high international demand for these machines.
The government also argued that prices of such medical devices keep fluctuating.
Cases: Many cases of hoarding, black marketing reported recently
Many cases of hoarding and black marketing of medical equipment including oxygen concentrators/cylinders have been reported from Delhi in the recent weeks as the national capital faced a surge in coronavirus cases and an acute shortage of medical oxygen.
A few days ago, businessman Navneet Kalra was arrested for allegedly hoarding and black marketing hundreds of oxygen concentrators at his properties in Delhi.
Other developments: Kalra contended oxygen concentrators not 'essential commodity'
In his defense, Kalra has been contending in the court that allegations against him do not hold as medical devices such as oxygen concentrators have not been declared as "essential commodities" under the law yet.
However, senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao has argued that oxygen concentrators, flowmeters, and oximeters are "squarely covered" under the provisions of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Also see: India at war: INOX chief Siddharth Jain on oxygen crisis
Delhi CM Kejriwal announces oxygen concentrator banks, home delivery
Accused of black-marketing oxygen concentrators, who's Navneet 'Khan Chacha' Kalra?
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