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April 26, 2019

Pharma industry, govt agree on 75pc hike in drug prices

Top Story

April 26, 2019

KARACHI: The controversy over increase in drugs prices seems settling down as the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) and the federal government authorities have agreed on increase in drugs prices by up to 75%.

According to sources, anyincrease in medicines’ prices above 75% would be taken back by the pharma companies. The government is yet to withdraw Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) 1610; therefore, the increase would be voluntary.

Sources said that after approval from the cabinet, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) allowed increase in medicines’ prices and issued the SRO 1610 on Dec 31, 2018. Under the order, the prices of 465 medicines had been increased and those of 365 decreased, while prices of 59 were kept unchanged.

According to the industry sources, there were only 51 medicines whose prices were increased by 300%. However, most of them were so low-priced that the pharma companies had stopped manufacturing them. For example, a pack of 1000 folic acid tablets was being sold for only Rs220 in the market, i.e. 22 paisa per tablet. Companies had stopped manufacturing them for not being able to even meet their production cost through sale of these drugs. The government increased its price to Rs550 per pack, i.e. 55 paisa per tablet. Some medicines or injections are imported, and with the dollar going up in Pakistan, increase in their prices had become inevitable.

However, the media highlighted the case of only those 51 medicines whose prices had been increased by 300%. According to sources, in a meeting between the advisors of the association and the government, it was decided that the increase more than 75% would be withdrawn. It is learnt that local manufacturers agreed to it but the multinationals refused. They say they would not be permitted by their headquarters. How can we import costly medicine and sell them at cheaper rates, they asked.

According to official sources, 24 of 61 are manufactured locally, whereas 27 multinationals manufacture locally or do imports. Interesting to note is that the government has agreed to a 75% increase, but why after the cabinet meeting, there is an indication to action against the companies increasing or decreasing the rates.

According to Jang investigations, in SRO 1610, the 365 medicines whose rates were reduced continued to sell at higher rates. So action will be taken against them. The association says dollar, which is selling at Rs142 these days was at Rs104 in last January. Many companies have stopped making many medicines for TB because of increase in the production cost. The increase was a must to save this industry.

On the other hand, the Drug Regulatory Authority spokesman has also accepted that the increase in rates was inevitable because of some reasons.

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