Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

West Bengal Opposes Differential Pricing Of COVID Vaccines For States; Urges SC To Order Uniform Price Fixation

Srishti Ojha
7 May 2021 1:28 PM GMT
West Bengal Opposes Differential Pricing Of COVID Vaccines For States; Urges SC To Order Uniform Price Fixation
x

The West Bengal government has requested the Supreme Court to consider directing the Centre to set aside the current differential vaccine pricing regime and cap the prices of vaccines at a uniform fixed rate. The State has also stated that Centre must also seek the advice of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority ('NPPA') on the vaccine policy including pricing aspects of...

The West Bengal government has requested the Supreme Court to consider directing the Centre to set aside the current differential vaccine pricing regime and cap the prices of vaccines at a uniform fixed rate.

The State has also stated that Centre must also seek the advice of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority ('NPPA') on the vaccine policy including pricing aspects of the sam

The suggestions and prayers have been made through an affidavit filed by State of West Bengal in the suo moto case taken up by the Top Court regarding distribution of essential supplies during Covid.

Supreme Court had issued directions through its Order dated 27th April asking States to clarify the infrastructure facilities available in the with respect to the following issues including Supply of oxygen and oxygen preparedness in the State; State of medical infrastructure in the State, and. Availability of essential drugs.

The State has further sought directions to the Centre to take immediate steps for compulsorily licensing the vaccines and expand vaccine production through the 18 manufacturing companies in India to boost vaccine availability at an administered price.

"The COVID-19 vaccination policy must be underpinned by the principle that we are as strong as our weakest link; A single person deprived of vaccination would be to the collective detriment of a large section of society; Any immunization policy must pass the muster of Part III of the Constitution of India and must be in furtherance of a person's fundamental right to health enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution." The affidavit has said.

Pointing out the different range of prices fixed by the two vaccine manufacturers Serum Institute and Bharat Biotech, with different prices payable by State Governments and Private Hospitals, the State has emphasized that these costs will double as two doses of vaccines are required to be administered for every person.

"The basis for such a differential cost for each vaccine is not founded on any intelligible differentia and is per se manifestly arbitrary and discriminatory. " the State has said.

Further, according to the State, the basis for arriving at the figures of Rs. 300 and Rs. 600, for Covishield and Covaxin, respectively, is completely opaque and in fact higher than the cost per dose for COVID-19 vaccines across the world.

The State has stated current differential pricing mechanism will result in low coverage of the population, and considering the current rate of vaccination, the immediate singular objective of Centre should be to take drastic steps to achieve universal coverage at the earliest.

According to the State, COVID-19 is an inter-state communicable disease and therefore the universality of vaccine coverage must be the Government of India's responsibility.

The State has urged the Court in the interest of transparency, to direct the two vaccine producers to explain the rationale and methodology for arriving at the current prices for the COVID-19 vaccines payable by the States;

"Profiteering at the time of a pandemic is something this Hon'ble Court ought not to countenance." the affidavit states.

The state government has urged the Supreme Court to take directs the Government of India to factor the interest of the State while considering diversion of any LMO outside the State, considering the burgeoning demand for LMO for treatment of COVID-19 patients in the State. Further, with the expected increase in oxygen demand in coming weeks, the current rate of diversion of LMO outside the State of West Bengal will adversely impact the medical treatment of COVID-19 patients in the State.

State has also suggested that the representatives of the State Government are also included in the Empowered Group constituted under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which is supervising the supply of Oxygen to different States, to ensure better coordination on a real-time basis between the Centre and the States,

According to thr State of West Bengal, the Court may also consider directing Centre to adopt the technical specifications and guidance on oxygen sources and distribution strategies for COVID-19 patients prepared by the World Health Organisation ('WHO') on 4th April 2020 in its medical oxygen distribution national plan.

According to the State, as an outcome of this vaccine policy, the States are being compelled to buy vaccines from the open market, where higher prices are fixed by the two vaccine manufacturers.

The State Government has recommended that the time-tested immunization programs in operation for the last 73 years that deliver universal coverage should function as a vaccination model at the time of this pandemic. This model envisages the Government of India providing the vaccines to the States to cover every citizen.

Click here to read/download the affidavit




Next Story