AT a time when the consumers are finding it difficult to make both ends meet due to unprecedented inflationary trends, the government’s decision to increase the prices of drugs by twenty percent amounts to rubbing more salt on their wounds. What is more surprising is the reaction of the medicine manufacturers who called the increase too small which clearly shows their apathy to the plight of poor people.
We understand that the increase in prices of medicines was imminent due to increase in prices of pharmaceutical raw material in the international market, depreciation of rupee and other factors. While drawing attention to their problems, the pharma industry in their several letters to the government had warned of their collapse if the prices were not increased. The government had to swallow this bitter pill to survive the industry and ensure availability of essential medicines in the market. Indeed the pharma industry must get a fair price for their medicines but it must also realize that these are difficult times for all of us and if the industry is not bagging massive profits which it used to a few years back, then it should not make a big hue and cry. Regardless of these tough circumstances, experts believe that the pharma industry is still earning profits. Hence, we will suggest the industry to cut the size of its profit for the sake of those poor people who have to take medicines on a regular basis for some serious ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular and others. We really recognize the importance of the pharma industry which contributes about one percent to the country’s GDP and with the right kind of interventions, it has the potential to earn a valuable foreign exchange for Pakistan. It is very rightly described as a long hanging fruit that can help both in terms of exports and industrial progress. Hence, we strongly recommend that the government extend maximum facilitation to this industry. A policy should also be framed to ensure local production of raw material as this will help keep the prices at reasonable levels.