Senate body meeting: Drug pricing policy being prepped, says health ministry

Officials tell lawmakers pharma companies closing shop owing to unfriendly govt attitude.


Our Correspondent December 04, 2013
Senator Zafar Ali Shah expressed surprise over the massive increase in medicine prices and said people are finding it difficult to buy flour to eat as inflation touched new limits. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:


The Senate standing committee on health decided on Wednesday that the Drug Regulatory Authority and Pakistan Pharmacy Council bills will be tabled in Parliament.


The bills were presented by Senator Abdul Hasseb and approved with new recommendations and proposals of committee members.

The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Zafar Ali Shah who expressed surprise over the massive increase in medicine
prices and said people are finding it difficult to buy flour to eat as inflation touched new limits.

He said it was the prompt notice of the prime minister which reversed the recent hike in medicine prices.

Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC) Saira Afzal Tarar said medicine retailers have increased prices on their own without government or manufacturers’ consent.

She revealed that 11 foreign pharmaceutical companies closed their business ventures due to the poor law and order situation, energy crisis and the high cost of doing business.

A drug pricing policy is under preparation which will be presented to the Council of Common Interests for regulation of medicine prices, said NHSRC Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Ilahi.

Regarding the recent increase in medicine prices, Ilahi said the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan had initially proposed an increase of 18 per cent which was brought down to 15 per cent. He added that the increase was applicable to only 40 per cent of medicines and life saving drugs had been excluded, while no price increase was ordered on commonly used medicines.

He further said some companies may close shop and a shortage of some medicines is expected if they are not provided relief by increasing prices which was due for the last 12 years.

The secretary said that there are 40,000 medicines that have not seen an increase in prices in the last 12 years.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.

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