KARACHI: The Drug Regulatory Authority, fresh from sanctioning an increase in the prices of cough medicines, has now approved a 25 per cent increase in the prices of medicines for tuberculosis (TB).
The change is already reflected in the market prices of medicines like Myrin tab, Myrin P tab, Myrin P Fort tab, Myambutol 400 tab, Rimactal tab, Rimactal INH tab and Rimactal syrup, according to Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association chairman Ghulam Mohammad Noorani
However, the change is not likely to affect TB patients in the country, as the government provides free treatment for anyone who has tested positive for the disease.
DRA’s decision came in response to a $22 per kilogramme increase in the price of Rifampicin in the international market. Rifampicin is itself a drug for tuberculosis, and is also used as a raw material in other TB medicines.
Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association vice-chairman Zahid Saeed added that the increase in price of Rifampicin was also prompted by the relative increase in the value of the US dollar. Profits of drug manufacturing companies have also suffered as a result, added Saeed.
According to data available with the TB Control Programme, Sindh, 1,000 treatment and 272 diagnostic centres in the province provide free medicines and conduct tests for TB patients. However, Ojha Institute of Chest Diseases director Dr Iftikhar Ahmed pointed out that a part of the country’s population either did not know about, or had no access to, such government facilities, and often resorted to treatment at their own cost.
According to the World Health Organisation, 420,000 tuberculosis cases are identified in Pakistan every year, while the incidence of the disease stands at 231 persons per 100,000.
TB Control Programme for Sindh director Dr Ismat Ara told The Express Tribune that the increase in the prices of medicines would mean that the government would be spending a lot more money on TB patients. It costs the government Rs5,000 for providing treatment to a TB patient for six months, according to Dr Ara. For a MDR TB patient, the cost for a two-year programme can go as high as Rs300,000. The annual budget of the provincial TB programme currently stands at Rs120 million, which has excludes provision of treatment for children and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) patients.
However, the country has been in a partnership with local as well as foreign advocacy groups to tackle the disease.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2012.