To check prices of medicines

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IN what could be called an appreciable step, the Federal Government has done away with the powers of pharmaceutical companies to increase the prices of medicines. In line with the directives from PM Imran Khan, all sections of Drugs Pricing Policy has also been abolished which clearly negates the Drugs Act 1976. In fact the PM was quite perturbed over the drugs prices that swelled in the last ten months and owing to this very reason, he had asked for reviewing the Drugs Pricing Policy.
Indeed just like the prices of food and other essential commodities, it is important to keep the medicines under check and within the reach of the people and government has taken a step in the right direction by scratching the powers of pharmaceutical companies which were earlier used to increase the drugs prices based on the consumers price index without approval from the Ministry and to this effect they had to only inform the Health Ministry thirty days before about their decision. Certainly such powers should always rest with Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and the Ministry of Health to protect the people from unjustifiable rise in the prices of medicines. Current situation also warrants a holistic review of existing prices of all drugs. There is also dire need to turn the DRAP into an efficient and proactive organization not only ensuring the affordability of quality medicines to the people but also working towards development of pharmaceutical industry which in fact has a great potential to grow and play more effective role in the economic development of the country. The net worth of Pakistan’s allopathic medicine market reportedly is over $ 8 billion, besides $ 4 billion herbal medicines, and the market is expanding day by day. Currently, Pakistan’s pharmaceutical market is included in top 20 markets of the world while in 2025 it would be among top 10 markets of the world. We are one of the few counties which possess a strong Pharma footprint in terms of an industrial base and support services. The focus should be on improving Pharma-related exports. For this the industry needs to invest in upgrading itself in order to meet the international standards. Since the government is constantly emphasizing on building the export potential of various sectors, it should provide an enabling environment and incentives to the Pharma industry to achieve that objective.

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