PHC Summons Federal Health Secretary Over Proposed Drug Policy

The official said the authority, in accordance with an earlier order of the court, had submitted the draft drug policy to the health ministry and currently awaited response.

PHC summons federal health secretary over proposed drug policy

The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday summoned the federal health secretary on Sept 23 to inform it about progress on the proposed policy prepared by the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan to regulate the prices of medicines.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali issued the order after assistant director of Drap Hafiz Bilal informed that the authority had drafted the proposed drug policy last June and forwarded it to the national health services ministry for approval.

The official said the authority, in accordance with an earlier order of the court, had submitted the draft drug policy to the health ministry and currently awaited response.

The bench observed that multinational pharmaceutical companies had a monopoly, so the medicine prices went up frequently to become unaffordable for the people.

It wondered why the federal government wasn’t ensuring the availability of raw material for the manufacturing of medicines and had to import it causing high drug prices and the country’s dependence on multinational companies.

Drap official says draft policy with ministry for nod

The bench was hearing three health-related petitions.

A petition about the contempt of court proceedings is filed by advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel for action against the chief executive of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission and high-ups of the health department over the non-uniformity of the rates charged by health facilities, including laboratories and clinics, despite a court order.

The second petition is filed by Kohat resident Mohammadullah Khan against the alleged illegal kidney transplantation to his uncle, Haji Habib Khan, by a group of health professionals, including doctors, for Rs2.55 million in the year 2018. Patient Haji Habib had died within two days of the illegal transplantation.

The petitioner’s counsel, Malik Ajmal Khan, requested the court to direct the FIA and HCC to take legal action against all people involved for the purpose and conduct a high-level inquiry against all those involved in the illegal organ trade.

The last petition is filed by PPP MPA Nighat Orakzai, who challenged the last year’s notification of the national health services ministry to allow drug manufacturers and importers 70 per cent increase in prices of medicines and requested to declare it unconstitutional.

In the petition, the MPA said by allowing 70 per cent price increase to the drug manufacturers and importers, the Drap and health ministry had overstepped their powers and violated the Drug Act, 1976, and Drap Act, 2012.

She requested the court to declare the impugned notification issued on July 15, 2020, a negation of fundamental rights of the people mentioned in the Constitution.

Deputy attorney general Asghar Khan Kundi and additional advocate general Mohammad Sohail appeared for the federal and KP governments, respectively, while the Drap was represented by assistant director Hafiz Bilal.

Mehwish Muhib Kakakhel was the lawyer for petitioner Saifullah Muhib.

The bench observed that a policy should be adopted to control the rates of medicines and lab tests and stop their frequent increase.

It added that the federal government should show interest in the matter as it was related to the people.

Petitioner Nighat Orakzai also requested the court to declare the production, sale and marketing of medicines and pharmaceutical products by brand names illegal and direct the government to legislate on the issue to ensure the manufacturing and sale of medicines and pharmaceutical products with generic names.

Originally published at Dawn

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