Local availability of unrealistically priced drugs to be ensured

September 23, 2020

Islamabad : In response to long-term shortages of several key or lifesaving medicines, the Federal Cabinet Tuesday allowed rationalization of the prices of drugs reported to be in short supply due...

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Islamabad : In response to long-term shortages of several key or lifesaving medicines, the Federal Cabinet Tuesday allowed rationalization of the prices of drugs reported to be in short supply due to unrealistically low prices. This change was approved for drugs in the hardship category on the recommendation of the Drug Pricing Committee (DPC) under the Drugs Pricing Policy of 2018, states a press release issued by the Ministry of Health.

“Over the years, the allowed price increase of these drugs was insufficient to prevent non-availability (and consequent selling of such drugs on the black-market), as well as to a lack of control of the quality of drugs obtained in this way, outside official channels. Taking these factors into consideration, the DPC in its 37th, 38th and 39th meetings recommended increases in the prices of these non-available/scarce drugs to the federal government,” the press release states.

The list of drugs whose prices have been allowed to increase includes medicines such as furosemide injections (for emergency use in high blood pressure), acetazolamide tablets (for glaucoma), hydralazine tablets (for lowering blood pressure), carbamazepine tablets and suspension (for epilepsy), atropine sulphate injection (used in emergencies), magnesium sulphate (used to treat seizures due to pre-eclampsia during pregnancy), hydroxyurea, daunorubicin, bleomycin (all used in the treatment of cancer), nitroglycerin and glyceryl trinitrate (emergency heart medicines) and anti-rabies vaccine, amongst others.

According to the Ministry of Health, the price of acetazolamide tablets has been fixed at Rs. 60.45 for a pack of 30 tablets for over a decade, despite increases in the cost of the raw material, rupee devaluation and factors such as increase in prices of packaging material. “What this has meant is that this drug, which is not commonly used but is nevertheless essential in some clinical situations, has been available only on the black-market at greatly inflated prices,” it adds.



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