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July 15, 2020

Coronavirus treatment: Antiviral drug selling at double the price fixed by DRAP

Top Story

July 15, 2020

LAHORE: An antiviral drug, used for treatment of COVID-19 patients, is selling at exorbitant rates in the market. “Remdesivir 100mg is selling in the market at almost double the price, fixed by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, which is putting burden on the poor patients,” said a doctor at Mayo Hospital. He said that several patients had complained that the drug was being sold at around Rs20,000 each vial of the drug. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had fixed price of a single vial of Remdesivir 100mg (Remdesivir Lyophilized powder for infusion/Each Lyophilized vial) at Rs10,873.

Similarly, the price of a single vial of Remdesivir 100mg (Remdesivir solution for infusion/Each 20 ml vial) was also fixed at Rs10,873.

DRAP had directed importers and manufacturers of drug to furnish maximum retail price (MRP) to the Division of Costing and Pricing of DRAP. It also ordered that the MRP should be printed on the label in the manner prescribed by the Drugs (Labelling and Packing) Rules. 1986.

Noor Muhammad Mehr, chairman of the Drug Lawyers’ Forum, said that DRAP had fixed the price of the drug at Rs10,873, irrespective of the brand. However, he said, the drug prices were varying in the market due to availability of two separate brands, manufactured by Biosciences Plant of Ferozesons Laboratories, duly approved by Gilead Sciences, US, and the other one imported by Searle from Bangladesh. “DRAP has not posted new drug price on its website,” he said, adding that the unprecedented demand of antiviral drug due to coronavirus pandemic, coupled with profiteering, was accumulating profits for the manufacturers and importers by putting unnecessary burden on the poor patients in the country.

He termed it a failure of the monitoring authorities to control the prices of drugs being sold at almost double its price at various medical stores and pharmacies.

The Drug Lawyers’ Forum, families of COVID-19 patients and doctors’ associations criticised the government for its weak control over retail prices of antiviral drugs in the market.

The DRAP chief executive officer and other officials were approached for version, but they were not available to comment on the matter.