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ECC refuses to increase price of Remdesivir injection

Committee also defers summary of Ministry of National Health Services for increase in prices of 119 drugs

By Business Desk
March 27, 2023
Pharmacy employees wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus attend to customers in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 23, 2020. — AFP
Pharmacy employees wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus attend to customers in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 23, 2020. — AFP

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet Monday decided not to increase the price of Remdesivir injection, used for the treatment of COVID-19, Radio Pakistan reported.

The ECC, under the chair of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, considered a summary of the health ministry for the maximum retail price of Remdesivir 100 mg injection — used for COVID-19 treatment — however, rejected the request deciding that the existing retail price of Rs1,892 per vial shall remain fixed.

The committee also deferred a summary of the Ministry of National Health Services for an increase in the prices of 119 drugs.

The development comes as pharmaceutical firms are struggling to stay afloat despite local and multinational companies' repeated requests to the government for increasing medicine prices.

The News reported that the pricing policy of the Drug Regularity Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and the depreciating rupee have caused an extreme shortage of most imported and critical medicines in Pakistan.

“Due to the extreme depreciation of Pakistani currency against the dollar and controversial drug pricing policy of Drug Regularity Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), their prices have risen manifold and it has become economically unviable for importers to bring them on the existing prices given by the DRAP,” Abdul Mannan, a pharmacist and importer of biological products, told The News.

Analysts have also highlighted that an increase in drug prices would add to the pain of many Pakistanis already grappling with higher fuel and food prices.

Other decisions

The ECC considered and approved a summary of the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) regarding the arrangement of a finance facility for funding of Government of Balochistan’s share of obligation in the Reko-Diq project dispute settlement with directions to the Finance Division to arrange payment of markup amounting to Rs6,238,358,879 for the period from March 31, 2022, to December 30, 2022, to the NBP for the short term finance facility of Rs65 billion.

The ECC also deferred a summary of the Ministry of Aviation on the engagement of the International Finance Corporation as transaction advisor for the outsourcing of three airports.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister for Industries and Production Syed Murtaza Mahmud, Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha, Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Masood Malik, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and SAPM on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha.

SAPM on Government Effectiveness Dr Muhammad Jehanzeb Khan, Coordinator to the PM on Economy Bilal Azhar Kayani, Coordinator to PM on Commerce and Industry Rana Ihsan Afzal, federal secretaries, and other senior officers also attended the meeting.