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April 18, 2019

Govt pressure: Pharma cos announce to cut prices of medicines

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April 18, 2019

KARACHI: Bowing to the pressure from the government and the people, the medicine manufacturers announced to bring down the prices of 395 essential medicines whose prices were reduced by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) but not implemented by the pharmaceutical industry and also announced to reduce prices of other 464 medicines voluntarily by 10-15 percent.

“Today we announce to reduce prices of 395 essential medicines from one percent to 471 percent as per the government’s SRO no. 1610 and within 15 days, they would be available on reduced prices throughout Pakistan,” announced Zahid Saeed, Chairman Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PMMA), at a news briefing at a local hotel in Karachi on Wednesday.

Accompanied by Ayesha Tammy Haq, the representative of the multinational pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan and in the presence of several drug manufacturers, the PPMA chairman said they were forced to lower the prices of medicines with a heavy heart on the pressure from the health minister and Commerce Adviser Abdul Razzaq Dawood as the increase in cost ofproduction had made the cost of doing business in Pakistan very difficult. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry also voluntarily decided to lower the prices of another 464 medicines by 10-15 percent to restore selling them at their original cost of production, Zahid Saeed announced, saying these medicines are commonly used for the treatment of communicable and non-communicable diseases.

The government had allowed an increase in prices of around 45,000 medicines by 15 percent following a suo moto taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. But the prices of 464 medicines were increased over 15 percent. “It is a very challenging decision since the hardship cases were decided in Nov 2018 when the rupee was valued at 138 against a US dollar and today it is at 143 to a dollar,” Zahid said. He said the revised prices can be sustained if the dollar does not appreciate, utilities prices are maintained and the government is able to control inflation. He said as much as up to 90 percent raw material is imported. “The electricity tariff has increased by 45 percent, gas bills by 65 percent and diesel by 95 percent which also affects the cost of production,” the PPMA chairman said.

Urging the government to slash duties and taxes on the import of raw material including packaging material, he said they contribute Rs.50 billion annually to the national exchequer in taxes and added if the government abolishes taxes, they could slash prices by another 15-20 percent and earn foreign exchange by becoming the second largest exporting industry within two years.

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