Local firms stop producing life-saving medicines

Published December 10, 2018
Manufacturers warn of shortage if drug prices are not increased. — File photo
Manufacturers warn of shortage if drug prices are not increased. — File photo

KARACHI: Local manufacturers have stopped production of life-saving medicines, including those for the treatment of multi-drug resistant (MDR) tuberculosis, different neurological disorders, various types of cancers and skin ailments, after their production cost surpassed their retail price.

The manufacturers have warned the government of an extreme crisis involving various medicines, including life-saving drugs, if prices are not increased by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) as per its own recommendations; pharmaceutical companies are unable to continue producing the drugs at present rates after 40 per cent devaluation of the rupee and increase in fuel prices.

According to the chairman of the Pakistan Phar­ma­ceutical Manufa­cturers Association (PPMA), Zahid Saeed, only 500 companies are actually producing medicines against 800 licence-holders.

He told a press conference that drug manufacturers were slowly closing down their industrial units due to unbearable production cost.

Manufacturers warn of shortage if drug prices are not increased

The PPMA chairman informed the media in detail about the association’s struggle and the process initiated by it for rationalisation of drug prices after devaluation of the rupee and the proceedings in the Supreme Court. The apex court, after months of hearing, directed DRAP and the government on Nov 14 to notify new prices of medicines within 15 days. “However, no step was taken by the government in this regard,” he added.

“Similarly, the Policy Board of DRAP was also directed by the SC to review prices of life-saving medicines in view of devaluation of the rupee against the US dollar within 15 days, but unfortunately no step was initiated by DRAP and the government,” he said.

He said 90 per cent of raw material for production of drugs as well as packaging material was imported and after the rupee’s devaluation it was impossible for drug manufacturers to continue producing medicines at the current retail prices.

Mr Saeed said closure of industries would lead to costlier drug imports.

He urged DRAP and the federal government to review drug prices immediately and notify new rates they have presented before the SC. “Otherwise, the manufacturers would be compelled to increase medicine prices on our own as per DRAP’s formula and list given to the apex court,” he added.

“We are also planning to initiate contempt of court proceedings against DRAP for refusing to comply with SC’s directives. In this regard, we will follow the legal course of action against the drug regulator,” he warned.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2018

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