The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday issued a stay order halting the implementation of 15 per cent increase in medicine prices.
The increase in prices was imposed by a recent notification, issued on January 11 by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), and included life-saving drugs.
The move was challenged in the PHC, with the petitioner taking the plea that the price hike was against the spirit of Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution.
During Thursday’s hearing, the petitioner’s counsel, Noor Alam Khan, accused the federal government of abdicating its responsibility towards citizens. He added the government, instead of providing relief to the masses, was further burdening the people of Pakistan.
Consequently, the two-member PHC bench, comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali, ordered a stay on the implementation of the DRAP notification.
The court issued notices to relevant federal government officials and other authorities concerned to appear at the next case hearing on February 3.
On January 11, DRAP notified the increase of up to 15% in the price of medicines across the country with the approval of the federal government.
In a statement, the authority notified a 9% increase in the retail price of life-saving drugs and 15% in the retail price of other medicines. The increase, in the prices of 898 branded and 123 solid drugs, takes effect from January 1, the notification said.
Sources, however, said that the price hike would impact the rate of some 24,000 medicines, including the life-savings drugs such as medicines for heart ailments, brain diseases, cancer, children’s diseases and post-surgical drugs etc.
The notification said that maximum retail prices of drugs have been increased “under paragraph 12 (8) of the Drug Pricing Policy, 2018”, adding: “Nine per cent over and above the maximum retail prices as determined under hardship category during the year 2018,” read the notification.
It further said: “Fifteen per cent over and above the existing maximum retail prices determined under the Drug Pricing Policy, 2018 for drugs other than those specified in Clause (a).”