Senior health experts have expressed concern over an acute shortage of medicines and increasing prices of medicines in Pakistan, saying that poor people are facing difficulty in getting treatment...
Senior health experts have expressed concern over an acute shortage of medicines and increasing prices of medicines in Pakistan, saying that poor people are facing difficulty in getting treatment because government hospitals are not free, and even medicines are not available to patients in these hospitals.
They were speaking at an urgent meeting of the Pakistan Medical Association at the PMA House on Friday to discuss the issue of a shortage of essential medicines and their increasing prices.
The meeting was presided over through video link by Dr Salma Aslam Kundi, president of the PMA Centre. The meeting was attended by Dr S.M. Qaisar Sajjad, secretary general of the PMA Centre, Dr Qazi Wasiq, treasurer PMA Centre, Dr Syed Tipu Sultan, former president PMA Centre, Dr Mirza Ali Azhar, ex-president PMA Sindh, Dr Sonia Naqvi, president PMA Karachi, Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro, general secretary PMA Karachi, Dr Hamid Manzoor, and other senior members of the PMA. The meeting also demanded the provision of quality health services at public sector hospitals. The participants were also concerned over the news item published in a section of the press, according to which the growing tussle between the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and pharmaceutical manufacturers has led to a shortage of 40 different essential medicines in the market and this number is increasing with every passing day. This shortage is due local manufacturers who have stopped the production of several drugs due to rising prices of raw material in the international market, resulting in a higher production cost. The participants of the meeting said the situation is worsening, the medicine is vanishing and the black marketing of medicine is in full swing. They feared that the crises may lead to further price hikes in the country which will be very disastrous for the poor people of our country.
The meeting rejected any further price hike. They were of the view that medicine prices in Pakistan are already very high due to which medicines are out of the reach of the poor people of Pakistan and even the middle class of our society feels burdened.
They said in a statement: “In such conditions when there is scarcity of health facilities at public hospitals, no such step should be taken that could further increase the prices. This move will make it difficult for the poor people to get treatment of their sick family members. We strongly oppose this proposal. It is very disturbing that instead of providing any relieve to the masses, the government is increasing the medicine. The painful aspect of this development is that prices of essential medicine and life-saving drugs will get increased further. This is against the rights of the people.”
According to the PMA, the life-saving drugs should always be available at low prices. People are already spending 50 to 60 per cent of their income on medicine and treatment. It is very well-known fact that inflation has already caused an alarming increase in food prices and the prices of other commodities of daily use. In such conditions this increment of medicine prices will add to the misery of the people.
The PMA suggested that the government should ponder some other ways to minimize the effect of increasing the cost of medicine because of the devaluation of the Pakistani currency. It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies through reducing taxes and cut in import duty of the raw material for drugs manufacturing and packaging. Vaccines and raw material for medicine should be produced in the country. Fake, counterfeit drugs and medicine smuggling should be eliminated on a priority basis. The PMA believed that government, pharma manufacturers and all the stakeholders should sit together and resolve all the issues in such a way that problems of manufacturers should also be addressed and the poor people should also not suffer.