Another increase in drug prices

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AS people had not recovered from the shock they received due to massive increase in the prices of drugs last month, the Government has raised prices of 253 more medicines and that too in the range of 22 to 35 percent. According to Drug Lawyers Forum the cumulative effect of the increase in prices of medicines, mostly life-saving medicines, reached up to 600 percent, demanding that the prices be reverted to the status of 2015.
The Government spokespersons are trying to justify the increase by claiming that these medicines have been introduced for the first time in Pakistan but market situation tells otherwise. Prices of almost all medicines have been revised upwards by pharmaceutical companies, putting enormous burden on the people and making it almost next to impossible for the poor to get proper treatment in case one falls ill. There is no doubt that the pharmaceutical industry too is feeling pains of wholesale devaluation of rupee and increase in rates of electricity and POL products but instead of allowing repeated increases in the prices, the Government should have come out with a package to cut down the cost of production including reduction in duties and taxes. It is regrettable that despite claims by successive governments to have focused on social sector, the health and education sectors remain as neglected as before as far as access of the people to affordable health and education is concerned. We have been emphasizing in these columns that the Government needs to harmonize its overall policies to tackle the issue of inflation, which is assuming menacing dimensions. How inflation can be checked when you yourself raise prices of medicines, gas, electricity and POL products and prices of wheat flour and sugar are uncontrollable? What an irony that at a time when the country was witnessing an unjustified increase in the price of wheat, the Government is contemplating a 25% increase in the support price for wheat for the next crop. The proposal to set up Sahulat Bazaars in Punjab and KP to beat price-hike is unlikely to make any significant impact on the overall situation in the face of superflation. We support the call of the Drug Lawyers Forum for retracting the decision to increase the prices of medicines besides introduction of genuine measures to curb inflation and profiteering.

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