PM's aide on health says prices had to be bumped up slightly, 'just enough to make sure they are available to common people'
ISLAMABAD: As much as a 262% hike in the prices of almost 100 local and imported medicines in Pakistan was approved by the federal government, a notification issued Thursday said.
According to the notification, the prices of 94 medicines were jacked up between 9%-262%, further aggravating the plight of the common people in the country.
Geo News has obtained the names of the medicines, the new prices, and a copy of the notification. Drugs that became costlier included those used to treat fever, headache, heart diseases, malaria, diabetes, sore throat, flu, abdominal and stomach pains, skin diseases, postpartum issues, and eye, ear, tooth, mouth, and blood infections, as well as certain antibiotics.
Among these were 68 local medicines and 26 imported ones, the notification said, citing declining availability of medicines in the market, a rise in the value of the dollar, and costlier raw materials as the factors that contributed to the medicines becoming costlier.
However, it added that pharmaceutical companies would not be allowed to raise prices further until June 2021.
Speaking to the media, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said drugs that were more expensive now "are the life-saving ones and those with old formulas".
"These drugs become unavailable due to a lack of appropriate change in their prices and end up being sold on the black market," Dr Sultan said.
"It was important to ensure that the prices of medicines be affordable to everyone," he added, noting that drugs available at higher prices earlier will now be readily available instead.
The job of the government and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), he explained, was to ensure the availability of medicines to everyone in the country.
The SAPM said the prices of such medicines had to be bumped up slightly, "just enough to make sure they are available to the common people".
Addressing an assumption that the federal government may have given in to drug-makers' demands, he said: "We did now bow down to pressure from pharmaceutical companies.
Dr Sultan said a list of medicines that have become costlier would be posted on the website.
"We are working on a new pricing policy," he explained, adding that the government was bringing reforms in all health institutions.