Public interest litigants to join case on vaccine price

Pharmaceutical firm files petition against govt order to charge less.


Our Correspondent July 21, 2012

KARACHI:


A court has allowed two representatives of civil society to join a case on the pricing of a vaccine for hepatitis B.


On Friday, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar of the Sindh High Court heard a request filed by Sarwar Javed and Javed Siddiqui of the Law Foundation. They maintained that the stay order granted earlier by the court in a petition by Roche pharmaceutical company was not in the interest of justice and the public.

The stay order was not against price fixing but was limited to the effect that no adverse action should be taken by the ministry of health against the company, clarified the bench.

Roche had gone to court. Its lawyer, Barrister Makhdoom Ali Khan, questioned one of the ministry’s orders asking them to reduce the price of the vaccine from Rs13,000 to Rs6,500 per vial. Each vial contains two doses and thus one dose comes to Rs6,500. This means that the company had followed the ministry’s order, he submitted. Yet Roche still feared action would be taken against it.

On Friday, new information came to light, however, as the people who joined the case told the court that although the vial contains two injections or doses, doctors are charging Rs13,000 and are thus making a 100 per cent profit. The patients battling Hepatitis B do not benefit from the ministry’s order because doctors are profiting, they argued, requesting the court to order Roche to implement the health ministry’s rule. The bench adjourned till August 7 when the court will reopen after summer vacations.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2012.

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