The Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Co-ordination on Friday withdrew 15 percent hike in medicine prices after intervention of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, it is learnt. The Federal Ministry on Thursday (November 28) issued a notification increasing prices of about 40 percent of the medicines by 15 percent with immediate effect; except prices of 22 lifesaving drugs- medications for hepatitis, ulcer, cancer, blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, kidney, heart related ailments and antibiotics. Price of any medicine, subject to a court order was also exempted from the increase.
Taking strict notice of the increase in the medicine prices‚ the Prime Minister said increase in medicine prices would not be accepted, and directed the concerned authorities to bring the medicine prices back to the previous level, a senior official of the Ministry revealed.
After the intervention of PM, an emergency meeting was called at the Ministry where it was decided to reverse the increase in medicine prices and issued a notification in this regard, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder.
According to the notification; in exercise of the powers conferred by section 12 of Drugs Act, 1976 (XXX1 of 1976), read with clause (a) of section 7 of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Act, 2012 (XXI of 2012), the federal government is pleased to withdraw its notification No. S.R.O.1002 (1)/2013 dated November 27, 2013 ab initio and with immediate effect.
However, an anecdotal survey conducted by this scribe revealed that manufacturers and wholesalers increased medicine prices several days before the expected hike while an artificial shortage of some medicines was created in the market. The price of Centaurus used for Hepatitis C was increased from Rs 3100 to 3400, Calpol syrup''s price increased from Rs 25 to Rs 42, Selanzar and Pepzine used by stomach patients increased from Rs 180 to 189 and Rs 219 to Rs 230 respectively, and aero cast used for asthma increased from Rs 255 to Rs 270. Qalsan having calcium in great quantity has high demand nowadays and currently is short in market, traders and wholesalers revealed.
Taking to Business Recorder, Khawaja Javed Akbar, Secretary General, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), said the cancellation of the SRO would have negative effect and might lead to severe consequences as regards non-availability of life saving medicines and commonly used drugs.
According to a letter of PPMA wrote to PM Nawaz Sharif, the retail prices of drugs have not been increased since 2001. As per ECC approved formula the cost impact from 2001 to 2013 is 94 percent and on top of it US dollar exchange rate was Rs 58, which is now Rs 110/per US dollar. More than 90 percent of the raw material used in production of drugs is imported.
The letter further maintained that DRAP had initially proposed an increase of 18 percent in its fourth policy board meeting whereas PPMA had asked an increase of 50 percent in prices. After a lot of meetings and deliberation it was decided that an interim increase of 15 percent will be made in prices. This increase is applicable to only 40 percent of medicines, and life-saving drugs have been "excluded", while no price increase has been given on the most commonly used medicines. PPMA urged the PM not to cancel the SRO for increasing medicine prices.