Black marketers hike prices amid shortage of several medicines

Insulin 70/30 price almost doubled due to halt in imports from USA

Dua Abbas November 21, 2022
Black marketers hike prices amid shortage of several medicines


Several medicines, especially those used for management of diabetes, mental illnesses, and epilepsy, have almost disappeared from the city's markets. Taking advantage of the situation, black marketers have started fleecing patients as they are selling a 10 milliliter vial of insulin 70/30 for Rs.1,800 against the earlier price of Rs.1,000.

According to medical experts, the pancreas of a person suffering from type-1 diabetes cannot release insulin, so doctors recommend insulin 70/30.

Similarly, the medicines used for management of epilepsy and mental illnesses are short in supply in the wholesale market. Common epilepsy drug Tegral is priced at Rs.260, but it is being sold in the black market for Rs.800. The original price of another epilepsy drug Epival is Rs.1,100, but it is available in the black market for Rs.1,400.

Pharmaceutical companies have also unilaterally increased prices of over-the-counter medicines, such as those used for treatment of common cold, cough, and sore throat. A box of Strepsils, containing 150 tablets, is being sold for Rs.2,100 against its earlier price of Rs.1,500. A 120 milliliter bottle of cough syrup Kroff, which was earlier available for Rs.280, is now being sold for Rs.360. Similarly, a 14-tablet strip of Kenstein, which is used for treatment of allergic rhinitis, is available for Rs.280 instead of its earlier price of Rs.245.

The price of a 30-tablet box of OTC painkiller Neoprox has been increased to Rs.168 from Rs.152. A box containing 10 sachets of Enflor, a probiotic used for treatment of diarrhea, was earlier available for Rs.650, but now it is selling at Rs.700. A 10-tablet strip of Clomid, a medication used to treat infertility in women, available in the market for Rs.628 against its earlier price of Rs.587.

Getformin is as an adjunct to diet and exercise that is used to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. A 30-tablet box of Getformin was priced at Rs238, but now it is available for Rs.262.

Patients complain about this unilateral hike in medicines prices by the pharma industry while the government is deliberately looking the other way instead of protecting consumers' rights. As the weather turns cold with the onset of winter, common cold and flu cases have started increasing steadily, especially among children.

People say that in times of rising inflation it is becoming increasingly difficult to earn two square meals let alone getting treatment, while the increase in drugs prices has made it impossible to buy medicines for common medical problems.

Qazi Mansoor Dilawar, a former chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, defended the increase in medicine prices which, according to him, has been made as per a policy introduced by the Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) in 2015.

Every year the prices of medicines will be increased by 7-10%, he said, but added that the rates in black market are not justifiable. Lilly imported insulin 70/30 from the United States, but now the system has been given to another company, which led to a shortage in the market.

The poor economic condition, especially the depreciation of rupee and massive appreciation of US dollar, has sent manufacturing costs skyrocketing, making it highly difficult for the pharma industry to continue productions which has created shortage in the market.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 21st, 2022.


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