Govt to have proper check on drugs’ prices

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PEIRA Act amendment to help overcome fee hike of educational institutions

Islamabad

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman on Friday informed the Senate that the government has adopted a mechanism to have proper check and control on prices of drugs.
Replying to a question in the upper house of the parliament, the minister said that besides check on prices, there was a system to maintain the quality of medicines and in this regard regular inspections were conducted. He said that the government has taken the matter of availability and quality of drugs seriously and there were clear instructions to the departments concerned in this regard.
In a written reply, Minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Saira Afzal Tarar said that increase was allowed in the prices of medicines during fiscal year 2015-16 as per provisions of the Drug Pricing Policy-2015 approved by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet.
She added price increase, under hardship category, was allowed upto 8% on 20 drugs and in case of lower priced drug; Folic Acid tablet price was increased from 30 paisa per tablet to 43.60 paisa per tablet (Rs.43.60 per 100 tablets) by the Federal Government as per Drug Act, 1976. She said that some pharmaceutical companies have illegally increased prices of their registered drugs without approval of the Federal Government, after obtaining restraining orders from the Sindh High Court at Karachi.
DRAP and the federal government are contesting these cases with the assistance of the office of the Attorney General of Pakistan. After completion of arguments and counter arguments from both sides, single bench of the Sindh High Court, Karachi passed the judgment on December 19, 2016 against these orders, the companies filed intra-court appeals and have again obtained restraining order from the double bench of the Sindh High Court.
Part of the order is also being contested by the DRAP and the federal government, she added. She said that 3272 new registrations of drugs have been approved during fiscal year 2015-16 out of which 360 registrations were issued to the new manufacturing license holders and newly approved sections in already licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers. She said the registration board in order to ensure the availability of drugs, for treatment of chronic ailments and those in short supply, has decided to have priority review process for the drugs required for treatment of cancer, viral diseases, thalaesemia, immunosuppressant, vaccine and sera, new molecules formulations, blood factors and bags.
She said that the registration letters will be issued after completion of process of price fixation and verification of manufacturing facilities.
She added to ensure availability of new treatment opportunity to Pakistani patients at the earliest, new drugs are also expediently registered. She said that the government has taken several steps to ensure quality and proper supply of medicines in the country. She said that the federal and provincial governments were playing vital role to maintain the quality and proper supply of medicines in the country and the complaints of shortage when received are addressed on urgent basis.
Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Muhammad Baligh-Ur-Rehman on Friday informed the senate that the government will appoint 21 new federal drugs inspectors to have proper check on the quality of medicines.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chairman Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri on Friday sent the matter of equivalence for A and O level degrees to Senate Standing Committee on Education to discuss the issue and remove discrimination, if any.
The decision was taken on a Calling Attention Notice by Senator Ayesha Raza and botht the Minister for Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada and Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training Baleeghur Rehman did not oppose the proposal.
Meanwhile, amendment in Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PEIRA)’ Act would help resolve the issue of increased fees of private schools and other related matters. This was informed by Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CAAD) Tariq Fazal Chaudhry while replying to a calling attention notice moved by Nehal Hashmi. He said that PEIRA is responsible to regulate the private schools in Islamabad and ensure provision of all required facilities to the students and teachers.
Tariq Fazal informed that so far, 22 educational institutions have been upgraded under Prime Minister’s Educational Reforms Programme while process of upgradation of rest of 400 institutions is underway.—APP

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