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'Different Manufacturers Coming With Different Prices' : Supreme Court Asks Centre To Explain Rationale Of COVID Vaccine Pricing

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
27 April 2021 10:00 AM GMT
Different Manufacturers Coming With Different Prices : Supreme Court Asks Centre To Explain Rationale Of COVID Vaccine Pricing
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central Government to explain the rationale behind the pricing policy for COVID vaccines in the suo moto case taken on the issues related to COVID19. The Court has directed the Centre to explain in an affidavit the basis and rationale adopted in regard to the pricing of vaccines."The Union of India shall clarify in its affidavit the basis and...

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central Government to explain the rationale behind the pricing policy for COVID vaccines in the suo moto case taken on the issues related to COVID19.

The Court has directed the Centre to explain in an affidavit the basis and rationale adopted in regard to the pricing of vaccines.

"The Union of India shall clarify in its affidavit the basis and rationale adopted in regard to the pricing of vaccines", a bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat ordered.

"The government shall explain the rationale for differential pricing in regard to vaccines sourced by the Union government on one hand and the states on the other hand when both sources lead to the distribution of vaccines to citizens", the order said.

The Court also asked the Centre to explain "how the supplies of vaccines will be allocated between various states if each state is to negotiate with vaccine producers".

The bench was considering the suo moto case In Re Distribution Of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic.

During the hearing, the bench expressed concerns regarding the different prices for COVID vaccines.

"Different manufacturers are coming out with different prices. What is the Central Govt doing about it?", Justice S Ravindra Bhat asked the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta.

Referring to the powers of the Central Government under the Drugs Control Act relating to price control and the Patents Act relating to compulsory licensing, Justice Bhat observed that the pandemic was perhaps the right time to invoke such powers.

"This is a pandemic and a national crisis. If this is not the time to issue such powers, what is the time?", Justice Bhat observed.

The Centre's vaccination policy allows private vaccine manufacturers to set the price themselves. Serum Institute of India, which produces the Covishield vaccine, has announced that it will sell it to the State Governments at the rate of Rs 400 per dose and to private hospitals at the rate of Rs 600 per dose. The Central Government is currently procuring Covishiled at Rs 150 per dose. Bharat Biotech, which produces the indigenous vaccine Covaxin, had decided to sell it to State Governments at Rs 600 per dose and to private hospitals at Rs 1200 per dose.

The Supreme Court has also asked the Centre to explain how it is going to meet the surge of vaccine demand from May 1, as the vaccines are open to those in the age group of 18 to 45 years from then.

"...if vaccination is open to above 18 we need to know how you are going to meet the increased surge in demand for vaccines", Justice Chandrachud told the Solicitor General.

The Court will consider the matter next on April 30.

In a related development, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Central Government on two petitions which challenge the Centre's vaccination policy allowing differential pricing for Centre and States as arbitrary and discriminatory.

Click here to read/download the order






 


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