Nawaz Shareef orders enquiry against drugs price hike
Prime Minister – Nawaz Shareef has finally paid heed to the complaints against the recent unfair rise in the prices of registered allopathic drugs, which have sharply risen by nearly 30 per cent, recently. Although the Prime Minister had given clear orders about keeping the medicine prices stable.
According to media reports, Nawaz Shareef has issued orders to the health Minister – Saira Afzal Tarar, to initiate investigations on this irregularity to prepare a report within 7 days.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had issued a notification on 28th of November 2013, to increase the prices of medicines by 15 percent, excluding the life-saving drugs. The next day, Nawaz Shareef took notice of this increase and enforced the cancellation of this notification by DRAP. Despite the cancellation of the notification 16 pharma enterprises filed a case in the Sindh High Court to obtain a stay order against the cancellation of this notification.
Media reports have further stated that; A unanimous officer of the ministry, has told that; Despite clear orders from the Prime Minister, the pharmaceutical companies had increased the prices of most of their medicines, including life saving drugs, but the ministry and DRAP have not yet taken any strong action against these violators.
The young pharmacists’ association (YPA) also wrote a letter to Nawaz Shareef, stating that, A recent market survey reflects a 30% impact of increased prices on registered allopathic medicines. The letter also states that the ministry of national health services claims that; no price hike has occurred in the market. It is also noted that no case of the price increase was made after 27th November 2013, when the notification was released by DRAP. “DRAP and ministry on national health services only deceived the apex court, the prime minister and the poor Pakistanis, by announcing of withdrawing the price increase. The price increase notification could not be issued without the formation of rules,” says the letter.
An official of the PM office, requesting anonymity, said that the premier has taken strict notice of the media reports regarding the increase in the prices of the medicines. “Premier said that he had clearly instructed that the prices of the medicines should not be increased, because the poor people cannot afford to buy costly drugs and they also have the right to live,” he said.
He added that the prime minister has also asked the ministry to sort out the reason for the increase in the prices and identify the culprits. The pharmaceutical companies have handed over the lists of the new prices to the wholesale dealers and the medical stores. According to the notification, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi has handed over the new price list of 53 medicines on 2nd January 2014, Abbot Laboratories has revised its prices on 17th January 2014. Pfizer Pakistan Limited has also revised the prices of the medicines. The document claims that the prices have been revised under the Statutory Regulatory Order 1002 (SRO), dated 27th November 2013.
The secretary coordination of YPA, Dr Nabeela Latif, said that every Pakistani has the fundamental right of access to medicines, which is denied by the price increase. The multinational companies are charging very high prices for medicines in Pakistan, and have been showing it as the research and development (R&D) costs, she claimed.