To ensure availability of medical oxygen in the country at a reasonable price amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the national drug pricing regulator NPPA has capped the price of medical oxygen cylinders and liquid medical oxygen for six months, the government said on Saturday.
The present situation of COVID-19 has resulted in increased demand of medical oxygen up to almost four times from 750 MT per day to around 2,800 MT per day, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said in a statement.
The issue related to availability, including pricing of oxygen, has been under the continued consideration of Empowered Group 2, Government of India.
It recommended the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) to consider capping the ex-factory price of liquid medical oxygen in order to ensure its supply to fillers at reasonable prices, it added.
The Empowered Group 2 also requested NPPA to consider a cap for ex-factory price of oxygen in cylinders in order to ensure supply of oxygen cylinders from fillers at reasonable prices, the Ministry said.
The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare delegated powers under Section 10(2) (l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to NPPA to take all necessary steps to immediately regulate the availability and pricing of liquid medical oxygen (LMO) and medical oxygen in cylinders, it added.
The Authority deliberated upon the matter in its extra ordinary meeting held on September 25 and decided to invoke extraordinary powers in public interest, under Para 19 of DPCO, 13 and under Section 10(20) (l) of Disaster Management Act, 2005 to deal with the emergent situation arising due to the pandemic, the statement said.
It decided to immediately regulate the availability and pricing of LMO and medical oxygen cylinders.
NPPA decided “to cap the ex-factory price of LMO at manufacturers end at ₹15.22/cubic metre (CUM) exclusive of GST; and to further cap the ex-factory cost of medical oxygen cylinder at filler end at ₹25.71/CUM exclusive of GST in suppression of the existing ceiling price of ₹17.49/CUM, subject to transportation cost fixation at state level, for six months,” the statement said.
The existing rate contracts of state governments for oxygen purchase, as applicable, shall continue, in consumer interest, it added.
The ex-factory price cap of LMO and oxygen gas cylinders will be applicable to domestic production and supply, the statement said.
In a tweet, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers D V Sadananda Gowda said, “Government is committed to ensure availability of oxygen during #[email protected]_india price cap will address challenge of transporting oxygen to distant and interior districts”.