As the country faces a severe shortage of liquid medical oxygen and price hikes as a result of the demand-supply gap, the drug pricing regulator has capped prices of Liquid Medical Oxygen for six months.
As the country faces a severe shortage of liquid medical oxygen and price hikes as a result of the demand-supply gap, the drug pricing regulator has capped prices of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) for six months.
India reported 85,000 new COVID-19 cases and total infections have crossed 5.9 million. As oxygen is the core therapy for patients infected with novel coronavirus and other respiratory diseases, the demand has shot up and with it the complaints of hoarding and shortages.
National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) has invoked Para 19 of DPCO, 13 in the public interest, and Sec 10(20) (l) of Disaster Management Act to cap prices of liquid medical oxygen and ensure affordable supply.
The ex-factory price of LMO at the manufacturer's end has been capped at Rs 15.22/CUM. The ex-factory cost of Medical Oxygen Cylinder at the filler end is capped at Rs 25.71/CUM. Prices are excluding taxes.
Existing rate contracts of state governments for oxygen purchase shall continue in consumer interest.
The demand for medical oxygen has risen four times, from 750MT/day to 2800 MT/day and the supply of medical oxygen through cylinders has increased from 10 percent to 50 percent of total consumption.
Oxygen inhalation (Medicinal Gas) is part of the National List of Essential Medicines and has an existing ceiling price fixed by NPPA at Rs 17.49/CUM. However, there was no price cap.
NPPA said, "Due to the absence of price cap on liquid medical oxygen, manufacturers have hiked prices to fillers and that means the price to consumer has gone up substantially."
Looking at the rising demand and increased need for logistics, medical oxygen manufacturers and fillers had appealed to NPPA for up to a three-fold price increase in the ceiling price of gaseous medical oxygen.
The Empowered Group 2 had recommended NPPA to consider capping the ex-factory price of liquid oxygen to ensure affordable supply.
The union health ministry has maintained that there is no shortage and India has surplus production of liquid medical oxygen. Earlier, the ministry had told states and UTs to ensure that no restriction is imposed on the movement of medical oxygen between states and every hospitalised patient receives oxygen.
Liquid oxygen manufacturers have also been mandated to divert 80 percent of production capacity to hospitals and only 20 percent to go to industries.