Unfair pricing mechanism creates shortage of medicines

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Amanullah Khan

Karachi—What Pharma manufacturers call unfair pricing mechanism has created shortage of essential life-saving drugs in the market. According to Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association, a number of medicines including essential drugs have become short in the market owing to utterly unfair pricing mechanism against, which no remedy is available to the Pharma industry.
Already the situation has become serious as some 70 to 80 medicines have become virtually vanished from the market as their indigenous manufacturing is no longer a viable option for the local pharma industry, said a PPPMA press release. The Pharma sector was the only industry of the country, which had to pay general sales tax on certain inputs of its raw material while on the other hand the medicines’ manufacturers could not charge the same sales tax from consumers. This coupled with a completely irrational pricing policy and mechanism has to led to a situation where local manufacturing of a number of medicines on cheaper cost including those required for common and life threatening diseases was no more a lucrative option for the local industry, said the statement.
The medicines no longer available in the market are prescribed for treating Epilepsy, Thyroid disease, for some neurological disorders, and similar other common and fatal health ailments. It said the price controlling powers of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) should be confined only to Model List of Essential Medicines’ of World Health Organization that is globally accepted as the list contained all life saving and other emergency medicines essentially needed by hospitals. For such reasons drug companies have moved the superior court as the very last resort to save the medicines’ industry from becoming extinct owing to complete apathy shown by the drug sector regulator and the government towards the pricing issue.
Pharmaceutical companies have taken battle of their very survival to superior court when they had been denied the lawful right to do minimal adjustment in prices of medicines to make viable their manufacturing in the local drug industry, said the statement. It said that medicines’ manufacturers had been left with no option but to move the superior court when they didn’t get relief of increase in prices of even “Hardship” medicines by meagre ratio of up to 2.86 per cent as prescribed by latest drug pricing mechanism of the govt.
The PPMA said that manufacturers’ of medicines waited up till 10 months to get the minutes circulated and decisions notified of the meetings of drug pricing committee of DRAP but to no avail. The statement said that medicines’ manufacturers were unduly and unfairly being subjected to criticism by certain concerned quarters for their move to seek court’s intervention in drug pricing issue.