Prices of commonly used medications— key antibiotics, anti-allergic medicines, anti-malarial medicines, BCG vaccines, and vitamin C — will soon rise. Invoking a provision “in the public interest” for the first time, the drug price regulator NPPA increased prices for 21 products, enabling a one-time increase of 50% from the previous ceiling rate. The decision, “in the exercise of extraordinary powers in public interest” under paragraph 19 of the Drugs Prices Control Order, 2013, has been put in place to ensure their accessibility, official sources say. To put cardiovascular stents and orthopedic devices under price control, this law has so far only been used to lower prices. According to DPCO, on the basis of the adjustment in the wholesale price index of drugs in the previous calendar year, prices of scheduled formulations can be updated only once a year. The decision, taken at the December 9 NPPA meeting, includes 21 scheduled formulations (12 drugs) that are low-priced drugs and have been subject to repeated price control. In drawing up its opinion, NPPA states that most of these medications are used as the first line of treatment and are essential to the public health system of the nation. Several firms have also sought permission to discontinue their goods because of the unviable sector. “The mandate is also to ensure that drugs are available at reasonable prices. Yet access can not be compromised, so people must have access to life-saving critical medications. NPPA also assumes that the inviability of these formulas should not lead to a situation where these medications are scarce on the marketplace and patients are forced to switch to expensive alternatives, the order says. According to law, drug pricing can not be cost-based and is decided on the sector, but this is an “exceptional step” implemented to address the situation that has occurred as a consequence of excessive price control.