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Manufacturers cut prices of around 400 essential drugs

Updated April 18, 2019

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PPMA says the step is taken under government pressure. — AFP/File
PPMA says the step is taken under government pressure. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Pakistan Pharma­c­e­utical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) has announced cutting prices of 395 essential medicines, whose prices were reduced by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) but not implemented by the pharmaceutical industry.

The association also announced slashing prices of 464 medicines voluntarily by 10 to 15 per cent “in order to provide due economic relief to the masses”.

“Today we announce that we will reduce prices of 395 essential medicines... as per government’s SRO No. 1610 and within 15 days, these medicines would be available on reduced prices throughout Pakistan,” PPMA chairman Zahid Saeed told a press conference here on Wednesday.

Accompanied by Ayesha Tammy Haq, the representative from multinational pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan, and in the presence of several drug manufacturers, Mr Saeed said they had reduced the prices of medicines under the pressure from the health minister as well as Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood as an increase in cost of production of medicines had made doing business very difficult in Pakistan.

PPMA says the step is taken under government pressure

At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry had voluntarily decided to lower the prices of another 464 medicines by 10-15pc and provide these to the people on their original cost of production, the PPMA chairman said.

The medicines whose prices were being reduced were very well known and commonly used for the treatment of communicable as well as non-communicable diseases, he added.

Recently, the government allowed the increase in prices of around 45,000 medicines by 15pc following a suo motu notice taken by the Supreme Court, but in some hardship cases, prices of 464 medicines were increased by over 15pc because their cost of production had become unbearable for the industry and production of many of them had been stopped.

“It is a very painful and challenging decision for the pharmaceutical industry since hardship cases were decided in Nov 2018 where the value of the rupee against the US dollar was 138. Today it is 143,” said Mr Saeed said.

He said maintaining these prices was possible if the dollar remained stable, utilities prices were maintained and the government was able to control inflation as prices of drugs could not remain isolated from these factors.

The PPMA chairman said the decisions were implemented immediately and work on replacement of stocks had commenced to ensure availability of medicines on reduced prices. The process to recover and replace stocks at distributors’ level would be completed in 15 days, he added.

He maintained that the government had allowed 15pc increase in prices of locally produced medicines in January 2019 to ensure the very survival of the pharmaceutical industry which was facing serious economic challenges in its attempt to produce quality drugs at affordable prices.

The increase in prices had been in conformity with several directives of the higher judiciary on the issue, he said and added that in case the government had not allowed the manufacturers to increase prices, the public health care system of the country would have been in shambles due to unavailability of medicines.

“Cost of production of the local pharmaceutical industry has increased manifold since 2018 due to an unprecedented increase in the value of the dollar while keeping in view the fact that up to 90pc raw material of the industry is imported,” Mr Saeed said

“In the meanwhile electricity tariff was increased by 45pc, gas by 65pc, diesel up by 95pc as all these factors also directly affect our cost of production,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2019