Drugs price scandal

THE Pakistan Drug Lawyers Forum (PDLF) and Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) have alleged that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has fixed prices of two hepatitis medicines much higher than the price demanded by the company. At a press conference in Islamabad, they revealed that DRAP had reportedly fixed the cost of prices of Daclatasvir and Sofosbuvir 400mg + Ledipasvir 90mg tablet at Rs162.50 and Rs1,050 respectively even though the company had demanded that the rates should be fixed at Rs18 and Rs75 respectively.
This is a serious charge and needed to be probed thoroughly by an independent investigator as it amounts to laying hands on pockets of poor patients whose fate is hanging between life and death. Hepatitis is widespread in Pakistan and according to a report the country has second highest prevalence of hepatitis C in the world and that almost every third Pakistani is infected with some kind of hepatitis virus due to water pollution and unsafe medical practices. There is much slackness on prevention side both on part of citizens and government and therefore, quality treatment at affordable costs becomes very much relevant. It is understood that those who do not have access to clean drinking water can hardly afford to complete treatment course, the cost of which is beyond the absorption capacity of majority of hepatitis victims. Under these circumstances, there is dire need to ensure that prices of hepatitis and other killer disease that are common in Pakistan are brought down. The government and especially Minister of State for Health Saira Afzal Tarar earned much goodwill when they succeeded in bringing down the price of Swaldi tablet, treatment of hepatitis C, to the reach of common man. However, the allegation of young pharmacists and lawyers clearly show that everything is not well and someone in DRAP might be minting money at the cost of patients’ health. This is not the first time that such allegations have been levelled, as there have been frequent complaints that prices of medicines are extortionately high as compared to other regional countries because of collusion between regulators/health officials and drug manufacturers. Fairness demands a proper judicial probe into all these allegations.

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