States should promote generic drugs: Health minister

"While we pride ourselves in being a country which produces low-cost drugs, yet for many, even these low cost drugs are not available," Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said at a seminar on pharmacy

Ruing the lack of adequate health care for the economically weaker sections, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said he has asked state governments to promote generic drugs to help the poverty-stricken get access to medical care, reports PTI.

"While we pride ourselves in being a country which produces low-cost drugs, yet for many, especially weaker sections of the society, even these low cost drugs are not available," Mr Azad said in his address at a seminar on pharmacy.

The minister said he believed that the problem can be addressed by providing generic drugs as compared to branded drugs that are usually prescribed.

"We are requesting the state governments that they should promote generic drugs," he said, adding that doctors should write in prescriptions the names of the generic drugs alongside the branded ones.

"I see a big role for pharmacists in this area as they are the interface between the manufacturers and the buying public," he said.

Mr Azad said there was an urgent need for quality assurance in pharmacy education and this can be done through introduction of new courses, drafting of new regulations for undergraduate and post graduate courses, revising the course curriculum and conducting continuing education programmes for registered pharmacists.

"I am given to understand that the Pharmacy Council of India has addressed this issue through the introduction of an integrated course of six years," he said.

President Pratibha Patil, who inaugurated the seminar, said the Indian pharmaceuticals industry should draw on the resources of indigenous systems of medicine.

"Pharmacy education should be constantly revived and upgraded as it will give students the required exposure," she added.

The Indian pharmaceuticals industry is ranked third in terms of volume and 14th in terms of value.

The total turnover of this sector is over Rs1 lakh crore of which 40% is exported.


Barclays hikes India inflation forecast to 8.25% for FY'11

It added that non-food manufacturing inflation will remain a source of concern during the next six months

Barclays Capital today revised India's wholesale inflation forecast for 2010-11 upward to 8.25% on account of the recent fuel price hike, reports PTI.

"We raise our WPI (wholesale price index) inflation forecast for FY'10-11 to 8.25% per cent from 7% previously," the investment banking division of Barclays Bank Plc said.

The recent hike in fuel prices is likely to increase inflation by 100-150 basis points (bps) (1%-1.5%) for the non-food manufacturing sector over the next three months, it said.

Barclays added that non-food manufacturing inflation will remain a source of concern during the next six months.

"The recently announced fuel price hike will apply further pressure. We expect a second order impact of 100-150 bps on non-food manufacturing inflation in the next three months," it said.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had stressed earlier this week that the impact of the fuel price hike would be less than 1% on overall inflation.

The government had late last month hiked petrol prices by Rs3.5 a litre, while deregulating them. In addition, the price of diesel was raised by Rs2 a litre, that of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by Rs35 a cylinder and kerosene by Rs3 a litre.

Barclays said, meanwhile, that overall inflation will remain above double-digits till July and over 8% until October.

"By December, assuming monsoon rainfall is plentiful, falling food inflation and lower non-energy commodity prices should bring WPI inflation close to 6%...," it added.

While food inflation eased marginally to 12.63% for the week ended June 26, from 12.92% cent in the previous week, fuel inflation jumped to over 18% during the week. Overall inflation for May stood at 10.16%.

Regarding food prices, Barclays said: "The outlook for food prices remains contingent on monsoon rainfall. We believe food prices will continue their descent if monsoon rainfall turns out to be normal."

It added that the RBI is likely to go for a 25 bps hike in the short-term lending and borrowing rates at its monetary policy review on 27th July.


HC quashes civil court injunction on BoR shareholders meet

Finding the litigation frivolous and raising questions over the jurisdiction of the lower court in the case, the Calcutta High Court asked the petitioner to pay a cost of Rs50,000 for a frivolous case

Clearing the decks for merger of Bank of Rajasthan (BoR) with ICICI Bank, the Calcutta High Court (HC) today quashed a civil court injection against the deal and asked the petitioner to pay a cost of Rs50,000 for a frivolous case, reports PTI.

A civil court in Kolkata on 21st June had restrained BoR from holding a shareholders' meet the same day, where an approval was being sought for merger with ICICI Bank.

Although, the BoR management called off the extraordinary general meeting (EGM), the shareholders went ahead and voted in favour of the merger and the issue is now pending approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The same day, ICICI Bank appealed to the Calcutta High Court, which in turn stayed the civil court injunction and posted the matter for hearing later.

Taking up the matter, the high court today quashed the civil court injunction and also raised questions over jurisdiction of the lower court in the case.

Finding the litigation as frivolous too, the high court asked the petitioner, an investor who claims to represent the shareholders of BoR, to pay the cost of Rs50,000 for acting in a frivolous way.

Earlier, the locus standi of ICICI Bank was also questioned on whether it was right in appealing against an injunction against the shareholders' meet of BoR.

However, the high court upheld ICICI Bank's right to appeal as BoR was in the process of merging with it and pending all approvals, the Udaipur-based bank was held by a trust.

Hearing the matter, the high court also examined the jurisdiction of the civil court, both in terms of territorial issues and dealing with a company matter.

Observing that the matter should not have been entertained in a civil court and it related to an entity outside Kolkata, the high court quashed the injunction.

Earlier on June 21, when BoR's shareholder meet was underway in Mumbai, its managing director received a letter from an advocate in Kolkata, informing him about the civil court injunction.

Subsequently, the MD decided to adjourn the meet and left the venue, but shareholders decided to go ahead with the meeting. They even passed the resolution towards the merger of BoR with ICICI Bank, the country's top private sector bank, and later the resolution was sent to authorities concerned.

ICICI Bank in May agreed to take over BoR in a share-swap deal that valued the Udaipur-based bank at over Rs3,000 crore.

The share swap ratio was fixed at one ICICI Bank share for every 4.72 shares of BoR. The deal is now pending for approval from RBI.


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