While talking to Medical News, Tauqeer Ul Haq, Chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association (PPMA) said, “We need to inform the public that those life-saving drugs were not available, and many patients were struggling to find them. Either such drugs were not available, or they were the smuggled kind and extremely expensive as well. I really think this is a huge relief for the public that these 94 drugs are of hardship category, and their prices were not reviewed for the past 12 years.”
Chairman PPMA told that the prices of drugs in the hardship category were not reviewed for 12 years. “So one drug which was of Rs 3, now it's easily available in Rs 7 is far better than the drug which is smuggled and cost Rs 80. Yes, it's true that the prices have increased, no doubt, but the prices were never reviewed for the last 12 years. Had the prices been regulated each year periodically, things could've been a lot different, and such a drastic shift of prices could not have been obvious,” Tauqeer Ul Haq told.
Chairman PPMA said that the Government should increase the budget of health to ensure that medicines are provided to poor people free of cost. “In our knowledge, when inflation happens, the dollars rate increases, the cost of medicines will increase automatically. Hence pharmaceutical companies providing medicines at almost cost prices to charitable hospitals and government institutions. If the government can increase the budget of health and ensure that they can purchase such medicines and provide it to patients at free cost, this issue will be resolved,” He said.
Chairman PPMA highlighted that Pharmaceutical Manufacturers have no role in developing policies to regulate drugs. “First of all, we didn't regulate or increased prices. Government approves the hike in prices. There's a mechanism attached to it. There's a board that oversees the prices of the drug; they regulate the prices accordingly. It's not like that the prices have increased suddenly after 10 or 12 years. There's a special board in the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) that checks the formula of a particular drug, its cost, and approves the prices. There is a protocol followed. Even after such prices increase, most medicines are not profitable, but we still manufacture them. It is our responsibility that the availability of such life-saving drugs should be ensured.”
On the question asked discontinuation of raw material import from India, Tauqeer Ul Haq shared, “95% of raw material is imported. Almost 60% comes from India. We are trying our best to find alternate sources, but then again, this switch will take time. It cannot happen suddenly; it's challenging. It almost takes 8 to 9 months to find a new source for raw material because we have to check its stability. Many raw materials are not available other than India. And since they are cheap compared to other sources, and opting for them will increase prices to 10%.”
“The solution is to shift this gradually, not overnight. Long term solution is that the government should give us a policy that such raw material can be made in Pakistan. When manufacturers are provided with leverage and get support from the Government, I am sure more people will be ready to invest,” Chairman PPMA said.