As the cold wave grips the country, it is a given that viral diseases and other medical complications, that are normally quite prevalent due to the dilapidated condition of the country, will take a turn for the worse. In such a situation medicine and medical aid become extremely essential. Sadly, more than 60 ‘essential medicines’ seem to be in short supply or unavailable in the Pakistani market due to the incoherency between pharmaceutical companies and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap).
While Drap pushes companies to manufacture medicines at a low price, many restrictions and delays in receiving government permits, contract manufacturing and narcotic quota have led to a halt in production. The new prices have not been approved for 11 months. There are other multiple factors that contribute to the storage of medicine, and pharmaceutical companies claim that the situation is not that simple. Over the years, the pharmaceuticals have had to decrease their profits owing to the overall situation. Therefore, they find it more viable to stop production of specific medicines altogether. The rift between the two shows that Drap pushes to enforce control on the rich pharmaceuticals while the owners of these companies are treating it as professional businesses much like the hospital industry that sells these medicines at its own price.
Due to the bleak economic situation, inflation and increasing poverty, the divide between the price of producing medicine and the affordability price of the average consumer is increasing. Even those medicines that are present in the market are not affordable to all. The intense cold will continue over the next few weeks. It is of paramount importance that pharmaceutical companies and the regulatory authority come together and solve the issue — not only of restarting production but also working towards making medicine more affordable to the majority of the masses. They need to take into account social responsibility.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2020.