Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) is likely to be added to the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).


About the ‘Nicotine Replacement Therapy’

  • Nicotine replacement therapy is a WHO-approved 12-week regimen that reduces smokers’ dependency on cigarettes gradually and finally leads to them to quit smoking.
  • NRT gives nicotine – in the form of gum, patches, sprays, inhalers, or lozenges – but not the other harmful chemicals in tobacco.
  • NRT can help relieve some of the physical withdrawal symptoms so that a nicotine-addicted person can focus on the psychological (emotional) aspects of quitting.
  • Many studies have shown using NRT can nearly double the chances of quitting smoking.
  • On average, the daily therapy cost could range between Rs 10-13 per patient and is taken over 60-90 days.


National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM)

  • Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the majority of the population.
  • The primary purpose of NLEM is to promote rational use of medicines considering the three important aspects i.e., cost, safety and efficacy.
  • The medicines in NLEM should be available at affordable costs and with assured quality.
  • The first National List of Essential Medicines of India was prepared and released in 1996.
  • Under the latest NLEM 2015, a total 376 drugs are under price control. The revision in the NLEM every five years was delayed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Issued by — Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
  • It is based on World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Model List of Essential Drugs.


Why NRT is needed to be added to NLEM?

  • India has one of the largest tobacco user populations globally, with approximately 267 million tobacco users (99 million smokers and 199 million smokeless tobacco users).
  • A huge consumer base lies untapped, with the NRT therapy used under 1% of the “quitter” population.
  • NRT is a nearly Rs 200 crore market growing at a robust 10% and is dominated by a handful of companies.
  • NRT products need to be priced and distributed effectively, besides increasing awareness around smoking cessation.
  • Once added to the NLEM, it will boost the availability of NRT across the country at affordable prices, with states and central agencies rolling out smoking cessation programmes.


About National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority –

  • The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), is an independent body of experts under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, formed in the year 1997 so as to implement and enforce the provisions of the Drugs Prices Control Order (DPCO) for regulating medicine prices in accordance with the powers delegated to it.
  • NPPA is delegated with the powers to exercise the functions of the Central Government in respect of various paragraphs of the Drug Price Control Orders (DPCO) – DPCO, 1995 and now DPCO, 2013.
  • The functions of NPPA include fixation and revision of prices of scheduled drugs (those medicines included in Schedule I of the DPCO which are subject to price control) and formulations, Monitoring of prices of decontrolled drugs and formulations, Implementation and enforcement of the provisions of DPCO in accordance with the powers delegated, Monitoring the availability of drugs, identify shortages, taking remedial steps, etc.
  • The organisation is also entrusted with the task of recovering amounts overcharged by manufacturers for the controlled drugs from the consumers.
  • All the powers of Government of pricing according to Essential Commodities Act have been delegated to it. Under DPCO, 2013 the powers to Review are vested with the Government.