Industry grievances: Pharma makers reject drug policy draft

Claim increase in cost of medicines over 15 years ignored

Our Correspondent January 01, 2015
About 100 pharmaceutical factories have been closed down over the last 15 years and it is feared that more will follow in the near future. STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) has dismissed a new proposed drug policy and said the health ministry and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) ignored its recommendations before sending the policy draft to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for approval.

“No description about the rise in costs of medicines for 15 years has been made in the drug policy, which is a matter of great concern,” said the PPMA spokesperson in a statement on Thursday.

“The crisis-hit pharmaceutical industry will face more losses if prices of medicines are not increased on a priority basis,” the official said.

“After freezing medicine prices in 2001, the cost of production and utility services, transport and other expenses have risen 300%, but ironically the government has done nothing to pull the pharmaceutical industry out of financial crisis.”

The spokesperson said about 100 pharmaceutical factories had been closed down over the last 15 years and it was feared that more would follow in the near future.

“Over half a million people are directly linked to the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “The delay in price increase will cause a shortage of medicines in the market and ultimately the sale of substandard and smuggled medicines will get a boost, which will endanger the health of millions of patients in the country.”

The official pointed out that the State Bank of Pakistan in its annual report had also criticised the drug control authority and the policy and said 60% of the medicines in Pakistan were cheaper in comparison to India.

In the estimates of the policy board of the Drug Control Authority, it was stated that there should be a rise of 97% in medicine prices. The 15% interim increase in prices that was approved by the present government in 2013 was withdrawn too.

In the drug pricing policy, the government had mentioned to revise the prices of medicines by November 2013.

The association urged the government officials to play their role in ending the crisis, which was damaging the already suffering pharmaceutical industry.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd,  2015.

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