Further increase in drug prices

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ON the one hand, the government claims of revolutionizing the health sector by introducing Sehat Sahulat Card scheme under which the recipients of these cards are provided free of cost indoor treatment for various serious ailments, however, on the other hand, the unbridled increase in the prices of essential medicines has pushed them beyond the reach of not only lower middle class but also for the middle and upper middle class.

Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), the other day, issued a notification increasing the prices of medicines by fifteen to one hundred and fifty percent. This major upward revision has pushed up the prices of over 300 medicines in one go.

What is also surprising is that the notification of increase was issued without any prior indication for public knowledge.

The last increase is 12th upward revision in the prices of drugs in 3-year rule of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government.

It appears that certain elements in the DRAP instead of protecting the interests of consumers are working for the drug mafia.

There is no justification whatsoever of the recent increase in prices and we say so given the fact that the government has significantly reduced duties on import of all raw material in the budget.

A major relief has also been given to the pharmaceutical sector on its 240 active pharma ingredients.

In this backdrop, we will ask Special Assistant on National Health Services Dr Faisal Sultan and also Prime Minister Imran Khan to order the reversal of the notification.

If the pharmaceutical sector does not reduce prices, then the government should withdraw the relief.

In these columns we have always recommended the government to sit with the pharma industry, address their problems and extend them the relief because we firmly believe that pharmaceutical industry is a low hanging fruit that can help Pakistan both in terms of exports and industrial progress but it is also for the industry not to rob the pockets of poor patients and their families.

Under the Sehat Sahulat Scheme, the government must also provide medicines to the poor families on subsidized rates.

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