Pharma sector study will ensure drug affordability: CCI

CCI is close to completing its study on the country's pharmaceutical sector and that it is likely to be concluded within a month.

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Medicine Factory
Picture: Pixabay

Last Updated on November 10, 2021 by The Health Master

Fair trade regulator, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) will identify measures to enhance competition in the country’s pharmaceutical sector to ensure the affordability of drugs after analysing the findings of its market study, which is likely to be completed within a month, according to its chief, Ashok Kumar Gupta.

CCI, which keeps a tab on unfair business practices as well as promotes fair competition across sectors, initiated the pharmaceutical sector study after observing issues such as lack of “effective consumer choice”.

Gupta said CCI is close to completing its study on the country’s pharmaceutical sector and that it is likely to be concluded within a month.

“After analysing the findings of the study, we (CCI) plan to come out with observations on various aspects in the sector that can improve market outcomes.

“Currently, it appears that, when it comes to medicines, competition is primarily on the basis of brands and not prices. The study will identify measures to increase competition to ensure the affordability of drugs, ” the CCI chairperson told.

Market studies were initiated in the pharmaceutical and telecom sectors, given their significance in the “new C-19-induced socio-economic milieu”.

Gupta noted that the study on the pharmaceutical sector was initiated “because of observable demand-side issues, such as a lack of effective consumer choice.”

The watchdog has been supplementing enforcement actions by commissioning market studies to get a better understanding of market structures and competition issues.

The study on the telecom space was started amid rapid advancements in technology and the fast-changing market dynamics in the space that have become more pronounced due to the pandemic.

In 2020, the regulator completed its study on the e-commerce space wherein the aim was to have a better understanding of the novel competition issues in the wake of growing importance of digital platform-centric commerce.

The study revealed bargaining power imbalance and information asymmetry between platforms and their businesses as among the emerging issues.

“Exercising the advocacy mandate, CCI nudged e-commerce platforms to institute a set of self-regulatory measures over certain areas such as search ranking, collection/ use/ sharing of data, user preview mechanisms, revision of contract terms and discount policy,” Gupta said.

As the watchdog steps up efforts to curb unfair business ways, the CCI chief also emphasised that the implementation of advocacy as a non-intrusive measure has enabled and brought a trust-based, acceptable and inclusive competition compliance regime all stakeholders.

Considering that government policies and legislations, formulated with certain stated objectives, might inadvertently restrict competition, the regulator engages with the government to identify possible competition issues.

“Ex-ante competition assessment of draft/ proposed legislation / policies for identifying competition issues and recommending pro-competitive measures is thus a key area of engagement with the government as part of the advocacy mandate of CCI,” Gupta said.

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