ISLAMABAD: The pharmaceutical industry plans to increase the prices of all registered drugs by up to 18 per cent.

In the absence of a national drug pricing policy, the manufacturers claim the increase has been allowed by the federal government.

“We have asked our members to prepare a list of drugs with increase for submission to the Drug Regulatory Authority,” the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association’s secretary general Khawaja Javed Akbar told Dawn on Monday.

He said the list would be submitted to the government and the new prices would later be printed on the products.

Mr Akbar termed the 18 per cent increase ‘meagre’ in comparison with the calculation made by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP). He said the formula for price increase had been approved by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet.

The manufacturers have held three meetings with the government since Oct 23 and they had largely remained inconclusive.

A meeting of the pharmaceutical association with the ministry of national health services, regulations and coordination on Monday also failed to reach an agreement over the price increase.

The government, according to sources, sought 10 days to announce an increase in the prices of registered drugs.

They said the government was willing to allow a 15pc increase, but it was not acceptable to the drug manufacturers. Punjab was opposing an increase of more than 15pc, the sources added.

The association’s general secretary said the drug manufacturers would not accept an increase of less than 18pc.

“We will go on strike if the government harasses any drug manufacturer,” Mr Akbar said.

He accused the government of backtracking from its commitment.

The association had earlier sought a 50pc increase in the prices.

The industry’s representatives claim that it would not be feasible for them to keep manufacturing life-saving medicines without an increase in prices.

However, the sources said the manufacturers wanted to earn billions of rupees from drugs used for common ailments like flu, fever, malaria and diarrhoea.

In a letter sent to the national health ministry’s secretary on Nov 11, the association also called for immediate finalisation of a drug pricing policy.

The draft policy was presented to the DRAP’s policy board, but has yet to be finalised.

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