KARACHI: The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufac­turers’ Association (PPMA) has urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to immediately sign summaries sent to him by the Drug Pricing Committee (DPC) last year as critically ill patients of renal failure and hepatitis C have been suffering badly owing to what they call his indecision.

In case the prime minister does not sign summaries sent by the DPC there will be no respite in the near future for patients suffering from acute ailments like hepatitis C or those facing renal failure as there is now a shortage of some 100 important medicines across the country owing to delay in approval of recommendations of the DPC sent to the premier last year.

The central chairman of PPMA, Dr Kaiser Waheed, flanked by key office-holders, told a press conference on Wednesday that a few months ago a delegation of the PPMA met President Mamnoon Hussain and urged him to play his role in this regard, but the president expressed his helplessness by responding that the pharma industry should start manufacturing these essential medicines by incurring losses.

“These matters should have been dealt with by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) without sending them to PM House,” he said.

Critically ill patients of fatal ailments like hepatitis C and renal failure have been suffering badly because of shortage of essential medicines needed to treat them. Production and availability of a number of essential medicines and life-saving drugs in Pakistani market had been severely affected due to indecision of the prime minister on this crucial matter, the PPMA chief said.

For instance, he said, hepatitis C patients in Pakistan had yet to get access to Daclatasvir, a tablet, which contained cure for people suffering from this fatal disease which earlier used to be considered incurable.

“Then, patients facing renal failure and on dialysis cannot get tablets to maintain the desired level of vital amino acids in their body as these are medicines whose unavailability in the local market simply means that fundamental rights of a large number of people are not being fulfilled by the state,” Dr Waheed said.

“An unjust and illegal system of panel inspection has been imposed on the pharmaceutical industry, which used to apply to the Registration Board of the Drap for introduction of any new medicine in the Pakistani market,” he said.

He said the panel inspection would only delay manufacturing and introduction of new medicines in Pakistan as the people who had been made part of the so-called panel inspection teams had no idea at all about good manufacturing practices of the pharma industry.

He said that barcode system was also being introduced in the country for selling of medicines in Pakistani market, which would be an exercise in futility as shopkeepers in the country routinely sell a few tablets to people on the demand of patients instead of selling the whole pack.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2017

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