New Delhi:A new National Pharmaceutical Policy focusing on the prices and availability of essential drugs has been drafted. This was stated by the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers and Steel, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan while addressing a seminar on drug price control in New Delhi today. The minister said that the policy also includes measures for the growth of the pharma industry. Highlighting the Government’s point of view the Minister said that health care being high priority area and prominent part of National Common Minimum Programme, the Indian Government is committed to ensure affordability and availability of medicines to all. Advocating consumer friendly prices, Shri Paswan said that. price control is one of the tools with the government to maintain some reasonability in the prices of the medicines. He said, direct purchase from the company instead of dealers can reduce the cost of drugs by 50 per cent The minister said, affordable medicines for all assume significance in view of the unique health insurance scheme for the below poverty line families that has been launched on 1st April, 2008. Of the entire expenditure on this scheme, 75 per cent will be borne by the Central Government and 25 per cent by the State Governments. Approximately 1crore 20 lakh people will be benefited annually under this scheme. Discussing the models and systems being followed elsewhere in the world will help to learn from others experiences to minimize the prices and maximize the availability of drugs. The Minister desired to continue the dialogue at national and international level to sustain and maintain an edge at the global level Appreciating the challenges faced by the industry on account of several domestic and international factors, the minister stressed the need for social responsibility aspect of the industry. Earlier inaugurating the seminar, the Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizers, Shri B.K. Handique said that the seminar will provide an opportunity to share the experience with others on the major areas of concern. Speaking on the occasion Dr G S Sandhu, Joint Secretary Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals said, price control is a very important issue for the government in view of the public health requirements of the country. NPPA has organized the international seminar on pharmaceutical prices and regulatory framework for affordable medicines for the first time to mark completion of ten years of its existence. Seminar is deliberating on various aspects of price regulatory mechanisms affordability of drugs and the international experience in the subject.