DoP extends price control of LMO & oxygen inhalation to ensure its availability for Covid-19 management

Shardul Nautiyal, MumbaiWednesday, March 31, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) has extended price control of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and oxygen inhalation (medicinal gas) for the next six months that is upto September 30, 2021 or until further order, whichever is earlier through a notification to ensure its availability for Covid-19 management.

The decision was taken by the Centre following the recommendations of an expert committee and the union health ministry under the Disaster Management Act (DMA), 2005 given the extraordinary circumstances.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) under the DoP had earlier vide notification dated September 25, 2020 fixed the prices of LMO and oxygen inhalation (medicinal gas) in cylinder under Para 19 of the DPCO, 2013 and powers conferred under section 10(2)(l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 delegated by the Union health ministry.

“All the notes and other contents mentioned in the original order S.O. 3322(E) dated September 25, 2020 shall remain the same and are applicable except that in Note (a) for the phrase “31st March, 2021 or until further orders, whichever is earlier” it is to be read as“30th September 2021 or until further orders, whichever is earlier,” the DoP notification stated.

As per the notification, medical oxygen’s price has been fixed at Rs. 15.22 per cubic meter (exclusive of GST) at manufactures’ end and its price at fillers’ end has been fixed at Rs. 25.71 per cubic meter, subject to transportation cost fixation at state level. Due to excess demand, delivery through cylinders has increased from 11% pre-Covid to 50% of current oxygen supply. It is therefore imperative to cap the price of LMO to ensure uninterrupted availability of medical oxygen through cylinders to the hospitals and consumers.

The existing rate contracts of state governments for oxygen purchase will continue in consumers’ interest and the ex-factory price cap of LMO and oxygen gas cylinders will be applicable only to domestic production.

“These measures will ensure availability of medical oxygen at reasonable price both at hospital level and through oxygen cylinders, especially to distant and interior districts,” the notification stated.

The Central government has put the onus on state governments to ensure oxygen availability for needy patients.

“In order to meet the enhanced requirement, medical oxygen is being supplied to remote areas of the country after incurring additional cost on transportation. Due to on-going pandemic of Covid-19, these extraordinary situations have caused strain at all levels in the value chain of production and supply, especially for distant and interior districts based on terrain and distance. And whereas, medical oxygen is not only an essential life -saving drug but critical for Covid management,” the notification further stated.