Key meeting: Regulator to finalise drug pricing policy today

Industry says delay causing shortage of life-saving medicines.

Our Correspondent November 17, 2014

LAHORE: The Drug Regulatory Authority and the pharmaceutical industry will finalise the drugs pricing policy in a meeting to be held on Tuesday on the directives of the Sindh High Court.

The court has also ordered that the meeting should be decisive as earlier timeline for finalisation of the policy was not followed. The decision will be sent to the prime minister for approval.

The pharma industry has endorsed the reference pricing, suggesting that DRAP should follow the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in formulating the policy that could protect the welfare of both patients and drug manufacturers and set the path for a balanced formula.

These guidelines recommend incorporation of the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system into the pricing policy, which takes into consideration multiple factors including inflation, foreign exchange, social mobility and demand to adjust drug prices.

External stakeholders had been insisting that the pricing of registered medicines should be referenced to a basket of countries with socio-economic factors similar to those of Pakistan. They said this was the only transparent mechanism, which would provide an enabling operating environment to all stakeholders and also protect the interests of patients. This will also ensure that drug prices in Pakistan are not higher than regional countries such as members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc).

The pharma industry is hopeful of an early finalisation of the drug pricing policy as delay is causing acute shortage of many life-saving medicines and hampering investment.

The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, Pakistan Chemists & Druggists Association and Pharmaceutical Bureau will attend Tuesday’s meeting. It will be chaired by the national health, services and coordination secretary and attended by the DRAP CEO together with a number of directors, including director pricing.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2014.

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