Minister orders crackdown on firms increasing medicine prices

Updated April 03, 2019

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Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani has ordered a countrywide crackdown on pharmaceutical companies for increasing the prices of various medicines. — File/INP
Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani has ordered a countrywide crackdown on pharmaceutical companies for increasing the prices of various medicines. — File/INP

ISLAMABAD: Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani has ordered a countrywide crackdown on pharmaceutical companies for increasing the prices of various medicines.

“Though the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) deals with the matter, being [a] government [representative] I consider myself responsible to provide relief to [the] masses and answerable to them. I am personally looking into the matter and would not tolerate illegal and unauthorised increase in the prices of medicines,” the minister said, whilst talking to Dawn.

“Some of the pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to increase the prices but it is learnt that some others have increased it by themselves. I will not spare them, as patients suffer because of it. Moreover we have decided to introduce an online facility through which people would be able to verify the prices of medicines.”

The government has been facing criticism over the increase in the prices of medicines.

Read:Medicine prices raised by up to 15pc

According to a letter of the NHS ministry, written to all provincial offices of Drap, some complaints have been received that unscrupulous elements in the pharmaceutical industry have increased the prices of their drugs over and above the approved maximum retail prices by the federal government.

The letter states that in the recent past, the maximum retail prices of 889 drugs were notified after approval by the federal government. In addition, a nine per cent increase over the notified prices was allowed for medicines.

Drap officers have been advised to monitor the maximum retail price in the market and ensure that those of drugs are not higher than the notified prices.

Moreover, stock manufactured or imported prior to the issuance of the statutory regulatory order [10th Jan 2019] must be sold at the previous maximum regulatory price. Provincial offices have been directed that in case of non-compliance, legal action may be taken against violators under the Drugs Act, 1976, and the Drap Act, 2012.

NHS Secretary Zahid Saeed told Dawn that though criticism had surfaced on social media against the inc­re­ase in prices of medicines, in most of the cases the cost had been increased by Drap because of ‘hardship’.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2019