PMA claims govt misleading nation about drug price cut

Published December 27, 2019
The Pakistan Medical Association had noted that that many essential drugs were either not available or were in short supply in the market. — AFP/File
The Pakistan Medical Association had noted that that many essential drugs were either not available or were in short supply in the market. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) has accused the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) of misleading the nation by claiming that the federal cabinet has reduced prices of 89 medicines at its meeting held on Dec 24.

The representative body of doctors said it was a six-month-old decision which had been announced again after the recent cabinet meeting. It also shared a notification of the Ministry of NHS, dated June 19, in which pharmaceutical companies were directed to reduce prices of 89 medicines.

However, the Ministry of NHS has denied the allegation and claimed that six months ago just an advisory had been issued regarding reduction in prices of drugs and now finally the government had taken the decision to reduce prices.

On Dec 24, Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza, while talking to media persons, said the federal cabinet had decided to reduce prices of 89 medicines by 15 per cent.

Health ministry says six months ago only an advisory was issued but now final decision has been taken

In a statement, the PMA said it was shocked to learn about the notification regarding reduction in prices of 89 medicines by 15pc announced at a press conference by SAPM Dr Mirza and SAPM on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan after the cabinet meeting.

The PMA said the same notification had been issued by the government on June 19 without being implemented, adding that it had been noted that many essential drugs were either not available or were in short supply in the market.

“The PMA demands that this notification be implemented in letter and in spirit and the government should ensure availability of drugs in the market. The PMA also demands that all medicines, particularly life-saving drugs, steroids, anabolic medicine and anti-psychotic medicines be only dispensed with the prescriptions of qualified medical practitioners,” the statement said.

When contacted, NHS Secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik told Dawn that in June an advisory regarding reduction in prices had been issued as all pharmaceutical companies and stakeholders needed to be informed.

“However, there was requirement to get permission from the federal government before reducing prices of medicines. We have got the approval of the federal government and as soon as minutes of the cabinet meeting would be received, a notification regarding reduction of prices will be issued,” he said. Dr Malik said that it was not correct that the ministry had misled the masses and claimed that the same standard operating procedure was used at the time of taking such decisions.

PMA secretary general Dr Qaisar Sajjad told Dawn that it was unfortunate that the ministry had misled the nation.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2019

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