Ministry allows up to 10pc hike in drug prices

Published August 23, 2020
The pharmaceutical companies under Drug Pricing Policy 2018 can raise prices of essential drugs by 7pc and non-essential drugs by 10pc in accordance with annual CPI. — AFP/File
The pharmaceutical companies under Drug Pricing Policy 2018 can raise prices of essential drugs by 7pc and non-essential drugs by 10pc in accordance with annual CPI. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services Regulation and Coordination on Saturday allowed pharmaceutical companies to increase prices of essential drugs by 7 per cent and non-essential drugs by 10pc in accordance with annual consumer price index (CPI).

However, pharmaceutical companies have decided not to increase drug prices in the first quarter of this financial year in order to support the government initiative to provide relief to people due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of NHS, R&C, the government proactively took measures to keep the prices static by interacting with the pharmaceutical industry in order to alleviate the suffering of people during the pandemic. The pharmaceutical companies under Drug Pricing Policy 2018 can raise prices of essential drugs by 7pc and non-essential drugs by 10pc in accordance with annual CPI.

However, all medicines will remain available at old prices till the end of next month, as pharmaceutical companies have decided not to increase drug prices during the first quarter of the fiscal year in support of the government’s initiative to provide relief to the people due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The spokesman said that the government appreciated and commended the decision of the pharmaceutical companies for standing with the government to provide relief to the people of Pakistan in this difficult time.

A notification about revising the prices of essential and non-essential drugs was issued by the ministry last month (July) after the approval of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, but the matter remained under discussion with pharmaceutical companies due to the spread of coronavirus.

Devaluation hit makers

Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association president Zakaur Rehman told Dawn that pharmaceutical companies had agreed to not increase the prices of essential drugs by 7pc and non-essential drugs by 10pc before October 1 for the nation, which was suffering from Covid-19 pandemic, though the manufacturers were facing problems due to devalue of Pakistani rupee.

“The prices will increase by next December or January as under the law, the companies will increase the prices on new product manufacture after October 1. We cannot change the dates of the drugs store in chemist shops and godowns so people should not pay the increase price of drug manufactured before October 1,” he said.

He also explained that the prices of a few drugs, not every medicine, would be increased. “Though we (manufacturing companies) are facing problems due to devalue of rupee against the dollar but we did not pass on the effect to the masses and did not increase the prices in last one year,” he said.

The Ministry of National Health Services review drug prices every year according to the CPI. Earlier in January, the ministry had notified reduction in prices of 89 medicines only on a directive of Prime Minister Imran Khan after the federal cabinet had decided to reduce the prices.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2020

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