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Prices of life-saving drugs increased by around 30pc - DAWN
« on: March 29, 2014, 11:09:30 AM »
DAWN 29/3/2014

ISLAMABAD: Despite instructions from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, pharmaceutical companies in the country have increased the prices of 179 life-saving drugs on their own. The average increase in the prices is around 30 per cent but there are drugs whose prices have gone up manifold.

On the other hand, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) claimed that the prices of only those medicines had been increased whose manufacturers had obtained a stay order from Sindh High Court against the withdrawal of a notification to increase the prices in November, it has been learnt.

On November 28, 2013, DRAP issued a notification increasing the prices of medicines (except life-saving drugs) by 15 per cent. The very next day, however, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the matter and on his direction DRAP withdrew the notification on November 29. However, 16 companies approached the Sindh High Court and obtained a stay order against the withdrawal of the notification.

An officer of the Ministry of National Health Services requesting not to be identified told Dawn that the companies had increased the prices by manifold. However, he added, DRAP failed to ensure the sale of medicines on the officially-fixed rates.

“Although according to the Ministry the prices were not increased since 2001 (except for a few cases in which permission was granted by the government), the fact is that the prices have gone up by 30 per cent in the last five months,” he said.

“As per a market survey, the price of a packet of memomax 1.5mg capsule has been increased from Rs142 to Rs2205, serenace ampoule 5mg/ml, which was available for Rs23, is now selling at Rs191,” he said.

Similarly, the price of omixim 200mg/5ml suspension has been increased from Rs145 to Rs242, vapto 10mg tablet (packet) from Rs128 to Rs200, zeemox 1gm from Rs120 to Rs174, and the price of amoxil capsule 250mg has been jacked up from Rs310 to Rs356, he said.

On Friday, the Young Pharmacists Association (YPA) also sent a letter to the prime minister stating that according to their market survey the total impact of the increase in the prices of registered allopathic medicines was around 30 per cent.

The letter added that the Ministry of National Health Services had claimed that there was no price increase.

It is also noted that no case of price increase was made after November 27, 2013, when the notification was released by DRAP.

“DRAP and the Ministry of National Health Services only deceived the court, the prime minister and the poor patients by announcing the withdrawal of the price increase. Till to date, rules for DRAP have not been formulated. The price increase notification could not be issued without rules,” added the letter.

Secretary coordination YPA Dr Nabeela Latif said a list of medicines with their old and new prices had also been sent to the prime minister. She wondered how DRAP was unaware of the price increase.

“DRAP cannot give retrospective price increase of 1.5 per cent annually from 2002 to 2013. This is against the settled principles of law and superior court rulings. Moreover, medicine prices are already very high in Pakistan as compared to India, China and Bangladesh,” she said.

“Every Pakistani has the fundamental right to access to medicines which is being denied to them. The multinational companies are charging very high prices of medicines in Pakistan.”

She said through the letter they had requested the prime minister to nullify the entire proceedings of DRAP during the last two years and take action against the officials concerned.

When contacted, Director Pricing DRAP Amanullah said after the withdrawal of the notification about the prices some companies approached the Sindh High Court and obtained a stay order due to which it was not possible to force them to reduce the prices.

“DRAP has already raised the issue of 16 companies in the Supreme Court and the next hearing of the matter will be held in April. We

have been trying to ensure that not a single company increased the prices,” he said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1096281
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