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THE drug price regulator has pulled up Piramal Healthcare for overcharging consumers for its Pred Acetate eye drop. The drug controls 80% of the Rs 14-crore market for treating allergy-triggered eye infections.

“We have sent a notice to Piramal Healthcare, asking them to explain the reasons and basis for raising the price of prednisolone acetate from what has been fixed by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA),” said an NPPA official, who asked not to be named. Pred Acetate is based on prednisolone, a bulk drug under price control. NPPA has fixed the price of prednisolone at Rs 3.34 for a strip of 10 tablets.

The move comes in the wake of complaints from consumers and rival drug makers. “We fail to understand how the plain prednisolone acetate eye drops could be allowed to be sold at Rs 37.21 per 5ml vial, while its various combinations with other drugs like ofloxacin and gatifloxacin are priced between Rs 12 to Rs 13,” said an industry expert who requested anonymity.

An email query sent to Piramal Healthcare remained unanswered. Pred Acetate is manufactured by Piramal Healthcare and marketed by Allergan India, a joint venture between American pharma firm Allergan and Piramal Healthcare.

NPPA controls the prices of 74 bulk drugs. Price of any medicine containing one or more of these drugs is fixed by the regulator. Any company manufacturing or marketing such medicines cannot raise the price without a prior approval of the authority.

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