DRAP Recommends To Increase Prices Of 110 Medicines
The government recently reduced the prices of 20 medicines while also fixing the prices of 20 new medicines.
Following critical shortages of dozens of essential medicines in the country, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has recommended an increase in the prices of over 110 medicines, which are either no longer being produced by local pharmaceutical companies or whose manufacturers have stated that they will be unable to continue production unless their prices are raised.
“On the directives from the Islamabad High Court, DRAP has forwarded a list of over 110 essential medicines to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations, and Coordination (NHS, R&C) as hardship cases and recommended increasing their prices by 30 to 50 percent.”
These medicines include lithium carbonate, a critical medicine used to treat manic-depressive disorder and prevent suicidal ideation, according to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), which said on Friday.
Over 110 essential medicines, including medicines for the treatment of psychological disorders, various types of cancer, broad-spectrum antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, diagnostic medicines, and several other classes of medicines, are either no longer available in the market or pharmaceutical companies have reduced their production as their cost of production has increased dramatically due to rupee depreciation, raw material price increases, and other factors.
The government recently reduced the prices of 20 medicines while also fixing the prices of 20 new medicines, but it referred the case of an increase in medicine prices to the cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).
According to the DRAP official, they have received over 400 applications for an increase in the prices of medicines as “hardship cases” in the last few weeks, but after thorough analysis and investigation, they have proposed an increase in the prices of 110 medicines, whose unavailability is resulting in serious hardships for the patients.
“The most expensive medicine is the one that is not available in the market,” an honorable judge of the Islamabad High Court observed when he took up the matter of medicine unavailability, a DRAP official said, adding that in light of the people’s suffering, they have forwarded recommendations to the federal health ministry for a price increase.
Similarly, essential surgeries and transplants were not being performed across the country due to a lack of various medicines, pharmacists and healthcare professionals claimed, adding that people were suffering as a result of critical shortages of essential medicines.
“Not only have local pharmaceutical companies halted production of several essential medicines, but some essential medicines used for the transplantation of organs are not being imported due to the dollar liquidity crunch. This situation is resulting in a serious health crisis in the country,” Salwa Ahsan, a senior pharmacist associated with a leading tertiary-care health facility in the capital, said.
According to Zahid Saeed, former chairman of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, the “State Bank of Pakistan should ensure the availability of dollars for the purchase of medicines and raw materials for drugs, while the government would have to realize that production of medicines is not possible without inflationary adjustment and an increase in the prices of medicines.”