The federal cabinet has approved an increase in the price of 94 life saving drugs. However, it also lessens the price of Covid-19 injection Remdesivir from Rs10,873 to Rs8,244.
Prime Minister Imran Khan presided the meeting in which several other important issues were discussed.
After the meeting, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan held a joint press conference with Information Minister Shibli.
“The cabinet allowed increase in the prices of those drugs which are short in the market as their manufacturers have stopped their production due to losses,” Dr. Sultan said.
Price increase after a decade
Dr. Sultan stated the prices of most of the ninety-four drugs had not surged for a decade. Consequently, manufacturers ended their production, which caused the shortage.
“When these drugs are not available in the market, patients are compelled to use costly smuggled drugs,” he said.
“For instance, if the price of a drug is Rs10, we have increased it to Rs15. Apparently, it is a 50pc increase but we have to save people from buying similar (smuggled) drugs at a cost of Rs300 or above,” he continued.
Dr. Sultan told Dawn news that with force the government could not guarantee the availability of life-saving drugs.
Besides, the cabinet also approved the import of anti-cancer and cardiac medicines which were ban in yesteryears.
Drugs with an increase in price
The 94 life saving drugs with an increase in price includes Furosemide injections, Hydralazine tablets, Acetazolamide tablets, Hydroxyurea, Daunorubicin, Bleomycin, and Carbamazepine tablets. Furosemide and Hydralazine help in stabling high blood pressure. Carbamazepine is used for epilepsy. Besides. others are used for emergencies and pregnancy.
“As an example, the price of Acetazolamide tablets has been Rs60.45 for a pack of 30 tablets for over a decade; despite the increase in the cost of raw material needed to produce this drug in the international market, devaluation of the rupee; increase in the price of packaging material and reduced volume of usage compared to the past. What it means is that this drug, which is not commonly used but is nevertheless essential in some clinical situations, has been available only on the black market, at greatly inflated prices,” the health ministry statement stated.
“According to the section no medicine can be sold in Pakistan; without its registration with the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap). However, with the exemption health facilities or hospitals will be allowed to purchase medicines; from the international market and use them for their patients. A Statutory Regulatory Order will be issued so that the medicines would be available under the right to medicine,” he said.
As Pakistan is going through a phase of the financial crisis, the soaring in prices of drugs will further cause fury in the nation. However, as per the government, they find no other way than increasing the price for the availability of such life-saving drugs.
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