Citizens' Issues
Delhi HC refuses a stay on NPPA order fixing drug prices

The High Court also sought response of NPPA on a plea by an organisation of drug manufacturers, challenging the drug regulator's 10th July notification that brought over 100 medicines under price control

 

The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to stay order from National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixing prices of over 100 non-scheduled drugs.

 

The High Court also sought response of NPPA on a plea by an organisation of drug manufacturers, challenging the drug regulator's 10th July notification that brought over 100 medicines under price control.

 

A bench of Justice Vibhu Bakhru, however, refused to allow Organisation of Pharma Producers of India's (OPPI) interim plea seeking a stay or status quo order preventing the government from taking any further steps in pursuance of its notification.

 

"I am not inclined to stay it or pass any ad-interim order. Issue notice. Respondent (NPPA) to file counter (reply) in three weeks and rejoinder thereto in two weeks. List on 29th September," Justice Bakhru said.

 

"Show that the power exercised by you (NPPA) is not unbridled as contended by them (OPPI)," the Court said to the drug regulator which was represented by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain.

 

The Court also observed that paragraph 19 of the 2013 Drug Prices Control Order (DPCO) does not restrict price fixation to only essential drugs.

 

Paragraph 19 of DPCO, 2013, authorises the NPPA in extraordinary circumstances, if it considers necessary so to do in public interest, to fix the ceiling price or retail price of any drug for such period as it deems fit.

 

During the proceedings, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for OPPI, argued that NPPA has cited extraordinary circumstances to fix caps on the prices of over 100 drugs, which are non-scheduled formulations and lie outside the scope of National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), but without saying what the extraordinary circumstances are.

 

Sibal also said that as per the government's drug policy regime, prices of non-scheduled drugs are to be monitored, not fixed.

 

"The government can interfere with the prices of non-scheduled drugs only if there is an increase of 10% more in their cost in a particular year," Sibal said.

 

"They (government) can only decrease the price by 10% and that too for one year. That is the drug policy regime," he added.

 

He also said that the government can include these drugs in the NLEM.

 

ASG Jain, however, said the "paramount" reason behind the fixation of caps on the prices of these drugs was public interest and added that OPPI has not challenged the notification or paragraph 19 of DPCO.

 

He also questioned the locus of the organisation to file the present petition.

 

The NPPA on 10th July had brought prices of over 100 non-scheduled drugs under price control as per paragraph 19 of DPCO.

 

While bringing these drugs under price control, the NPPA has noted that it is of the considered view that there exists huge inter-brand price differences in branded-generics/ off patent drugs, which is indicative of a severe market failure.

User

Gaza ceasefire in trouble: Fighting erupts two hours after start of the truce

It was not immediately clear as to which side broke the ceasefire amid claims and counter-claims

 

A 72-hour ceasefire brokered by the US and the UN was in jeopardy just two hours after it began on Friday, with the Palestinian militant groups accusing Israel of killing four persons in the Gaza Strip by artillery shelling and Tel Aviv blaming militants of firing rockets.

 

Four Palestinians were killed and 20 others injured in an Israeli artillery attack near the southern Rafiah area today, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

 

Palestinian sources claimed that three others were shot by Israeli sniper fire in the southern Gaza Strip.

 

An Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson said they were looking into the incidents.

 

Around the same time, two Code Red sirens were heard in Eshkol Regional Council. Two rockets landed in an open area, Israel's Channel 10 reported.

 

It was not immediately clear as to which side broke the ceasefire amid claims and counter-claims.

 

The announcement of the truce between Israel and Palestinians was made in a statement released in New Delhi, where US Secretary of State John Kerry is on a visit.

 

The temporary humanitarian ceasefire came into effect early Friday after Israel accepted a joint proposal from the US and the UN which took into consideration a key demand by it.

 

Israel had been demanding that any ceasefire deal include a condition that allows its troops to remain in Gaza over the 72-hour truce which it says it would utilise to locate and neutralise tunnels infiltrating into Israel.

 

Representatives of the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, and an Israeli delegation are in Cairo to work on a sustainable truce beyond the next 72 hours.

 

Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders are also camping in the Egyptian capital but talks with Israel are carried out informally through mediators as the militant factions do not recognise the Jewish state.

 

The Palestinian death toll in the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza surpassed that of Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 as the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks reached 1,450 yesterday in its 25th day.

 

According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 1,417 Palestinians were killed during Operation Cast Lead, which was the longest conflict between the two sides lasting 22 days, before the current fighting began.

 

The death count on the Israeli side also saw a significant increase with 61 soldiers killed this time compared to 10 in 2008-09. Three Israeli civilians and a Thai national working in Israel died in rocket and mortar attacks.

User

US Judge rejects Microsoft’s defense of overseas data

US Attorney Preet Bharara has argued that under a 1986 law governing electronic communications, Microsoft is required to share user data with authorities regardless of where the company has decided to store it

 

A judge on Thursday rejected a bid by Microsoft to derail a warrant demanding that email data from servers in Ireland be turned over to US prosecutors.

 

Microsoft vowed to battle on in the case, which is being closely watched by Internet companies eager to assure users around the world that their private information is not being freely shared with US authorities.

 

“The only issue that was certain this morning was that the District Court’s decision would not represent the final step in this process,” Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said in an email reply to an AFP inquiry after the ruling by US District Judge Loretta Preska.

 

“We will appeal promptly and continue to advocate that people’s email deserves strong privacy protection in the US and around the world.”

 

Microsoft argued in court that the warrant, which would require the tech giant to turn over customer emails stored in a data centre in Dublin, should be nullified because it would give the US government excessive power to pry over private information.

 

A two-hour hearing ended with Preska denying Microsoft’s request to have the sub-poena quashed, according to a spokesperson for the US attorney in New York.

 

The legal battle comes amid rising concern about US surveillance following revelations of snooping disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

 

Leading tech firms, including Apple and Verizon, have filed briefs supporting Microsoft.

 

Microsoft has argued that the customer emails, sought in this case in a Justice Department narcotics probe, are entitled to the same protections as paper letters sent by mail.

 

That means prosecutors should only be able to access the information in the electronic “cloud” with a warrant, and that the authority of such warrants ends at the US border.

 

Smith also has publicly contended that the case could leave US citizen’s privacy vulnerable to overseas prying if other counties opt for the same tactic.

 

But US Attorney Preet Bharara argued that under a 1986 law governing electronic communications, the tech giant is required to produce the data regardless of where Microsoft has decided to store it.

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