Multinational and local pharmaceutical companies (MNCs) have warned the government about possible drug shortages saying that the government had not allowed an increase in prices – against inflation – making it financially unfeasible for them to continue supplying a number of medicines, a press release said on Monday.
The industry requested the government several times to allow a reasonable adjustment in price against inflation and the jump in input costs but the latter’s rejection has deprived the industry of legitimate profit and halted further investments from the pharmaceutical sector, said Pharma Bureau Executive Director Dr Sadia Moazzam.
It may be added here that the organisation which represents local pharmaceutical companies, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) had demanded a price increase for their low-priced drugs citing similar reasons, Dawn reported on Monday.
The last formal price increase, according to pharma sources, was made in the year 2001.
The representatives of the industry have warned the government about possible drug shortages, because of a suspension of supply and reduction in investments if their demands are not met.
Many pharmaceuticals have suspended the production of some important daily use drugs, which they were previously producing either at a loss or at very low margins, the statement said. A widely used MNC medicine, supplied at Rs15 per 100 tablets for example was recently short in the market.
The alternative for this critical medicine is imported substitutes, which are priced at Rs 400 per pack, almost 25 times the price; the statement said.
In 2009, the industry and Ministry of Health framed a comprehensive pricing policy, which would allow the industry to obtain rational price levels for their products. However, the policy was withdrawn at the last moment.
In the absence of appropriate pricing and intellectual rights protection MNCs lack interest to introduce the newest and highest quality medicines in Pakistan. This results in lack of treatment options for doctors because it is these multinational corporations that give the impetus to education and research in support of these latest medicines, the statement said.
Without adjustments to the pricing, shortages of medicines is on the cards, the statement said. MNCs will soon notify the Drug Regulatory Authority about the suspension of the supply, it added.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.
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