ISLAMABAD: Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap)’s decision to keep the maximum retail price (MRP) of generic drugs 15pc less than the originator brands has triggered rumours on social media that it would make around 6,000 medicines dearer.
However, the authority advised patients and stakeholders not to rely on social media as it was being used to create unrest in society and defame government departments.
In a notification dated June 19, Drap said: “MRP of any generic medicine shall be at least 15pc less than the MRP of originator brand. Moreover, it will not be allowed to increase the prices of generic medicines.”
Maximum retail price of any generic medicine shall be at least 15pc less than that of the originator brand, authority says
Originator brands are those drugs which are invented after research work, so the companies are allowed to sell such drugs at higher rates as they spend a lot of funds on research work. On the other hand, generic medicines are a copy of the formula of the originators and are sold at lower rates as they do not carry out any research work.
As per the notification, 25 antiviral tablets Zovirax (200mg) of GSK Company are being sold at Rs1,513 and the generics cannot sell it for over Rs1,286. Similarly, 30 tablets of 1mg Xanax of Pfizer Company used for treating anxiety disorder are sold for Rs305 whereas the generic is available at a maximum price of Rs259.
It also shows that 20 tablets of 10mg Norvasc of Pfizer, which is used for lowering high blood pressure and helps prevent strokes, is sold for Rs375 while the generic cannot be sold for more than Rs319. Similarly, 10 tablets of 500mg Ciproxin of Bayer Company that is prescribed to treat infection is sold for Rs451. The maximum price of the generic drug will be Rs383.
The document also showed that 10 capsules of Tamiflu of Roche Company are available for Rs1,569 and the generic would be sold for not more than Rs1,334.
However, there were rumours on social media which said that generic medicines were being sold at much lower rates compared to the originator brands. It was also claimed on social media that the PTI government had increased prices of medicines for the fifth time in less than one year.
When contacted, Director Pricing Drap Amanullah told Dawn that some elements deliberately removed the first page of the notification and circulated it on social media, alleging that prices of medicines had been increased.
“The circulation of that information created panic among patients. However, after the notification prices of hundreds of medicines have been reduced,” he said.
When asked how prices would be decreased, Mr Amanullah said over the years a number of pharmaceutical companies selling generic medicines had obtained permission to sell drugs at higher rates.
“Some of the generic medicines were sold at prices of originator’s drugs as after four years the originators have to reduce their prices. Last year, we pushed the originators to reduce prices by up to 30pc. As they reduced the prices, some generic medicines were being sold at higher rates than the originator medicines.”
He said Drap had directed that no generic medicine would be allowed to be sold at less than 15pc lower rates compared to the originator drugs.
“Moreover, the notification clearly states that no company would be allowed to increase prices. Because of the decision people would get drugs at cheaper rates. The rumours on social media are totally false,” he said.
According to a statement issued by Drap, in its direction issued on June 19 the authority had directed that generic manufacturers were bound to reduce MRPs of their drugs by 15pc from the approved MRPs of originator drugs under Drugs Pricing Policy 2015.
The policy clearly provides that any generic shall be at least 15pc less than the MRP of originator brand and generic drug price cannot reach or exceed the price of an originator drug.
Drap has directed pharmaceutical companies to reduce the MRPs of their higher priced generics up to the level as mentioned in the letter issued on June 19.
However, pharmaceutical companies selling generic drug at lower prices are not allowed to increase prices of their products.
Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2019