The local pharmaceutical industry believes that unnecessary and illogical criticism had been started against prices of medicines.
And the fact of the matter is that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) following Drug Pricing Policy 2018 has given the companies first price increase after 18 years. “Increasing drug prices arbitrarily would be a big violation of the SRO of DRAP and the Supreme Court orders. Hence, hike in medicines prices are as per the drug pricing policy and acknowledging the hardships pharmaceutical companies are facing,” said an official of a pharmaceutical company.
It may be noted that DRAP issued an SRO 34(I)/2019 on January 10th this year with the approval of the federal government to increase maximum retail prices by 9 percent for the drugs that were given some increase under hardship cases category in 2018, and 15 percent for the remaining drugs.
Earlier, the DRAP issued SRO-1608(I)/2018, SRO-1609(I)/2018 and SRO-1610(I)/2018 on December 31, 2018 to notify price increase of 128, 67 and 889 medicines respectively under hardship cases. The official added that the inflation has reached 9.4% which is highest in last five years, while the Pakistani rupee has depreciated by more than 13% since the start of this fiscal year. “These are the reasons why every industry in Pakistan is suffering,” he added. He said the pharmaceutical industry has been under severe pressure as drug prices were already artificially suppressed for over 17 years until Drug Pricing Policy came in place. “This resulted in severe shortages of life-saving drugs, episodes of epidemics and flight of research-based MNCs in Pakistan,” said the official. The official commended the government for considering hardship cases and giving a plausible price increase that was due since long.
“Many manufacturers have stopped producing unviable drugs and they filed for relief under hardship category to keep on providing medicines to the patients,” he added.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of Pharma Bureau, Ayesha Tammy Haq said the government had increased prices of medicines by 15 per cent in 2013 but the very next day then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered withdrawal of that notification.