An affidavit requesting the order of uniform vaccine prices throughout the nation has been filed by the State of West Bengal asking the Supreme Court to consider setting aside the current differential vaccine prices. It further suggested taking advice from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (‘NPPA’) on the vaccine policy.
The Supreme Court had earlier issued directions in an order dated 27th April seeking a report on the available infrastructure facilities with respect to supply of oxygen and the required preparedness in the State with regard to medical aids and supplies.
The affidavit contended that “Any immunization policy must pass the muster of Part III of the Constitution of India and must be in furtherance of a person’s fundamental right to health enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
The State further emphasised that these costs would be doubled as two doses of vaccines are required for every person. There is no intelligible differentia to be found for such a differential cost for each vaccine and is prima facie arbitrary and discriminatory. It further contended that such a differential pricing would lead to lower coverage of the population.
According to the state, it is a responsibility of the Central Government to make the vaccines available universally and to direct the two vaccine producers to explain their rationale and methodology for arriving at the current price range.