Court asks Drap to reconsider drug price hike

Updated 20 Nov 2020

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A bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali observed that the continuous increase in drug prices had made the people’s life miserable as they could no longer afford medicines. — APP
A bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali observed that the continuous increase in drug prices had made the people’s life miserable as they could no longer afford medicines. — APP

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan to reconsider its recent decision to increase prices of numerous medicines and submit a report in that respect within a month.

A bench consisting of acting Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali observed that the continuous increase in drug prices had made the people’s life miserable as they could no longer afford medicines.

Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that the Drap had even increased the prices of lifesaving drugs, including those meant for diabetes, many times.

The bench also reprimanded Drap chief executive officer Asim Rauf for his statement in the court that the prices of only 94 medicines were increased and they were of low-cost drugs.

It observed that he had given a misstatement in the court as the situation in the market was all-together different.

Observes lifesaving medicines out of people’s reach

“How have you been occupying such an important post? You have no sympathy for the people, who are bearing the brunt of price hike. Now, their miseries have been increased manifold by the excessive increase in drug prices,” Justice Qaiser Rashid observed.

The bench was hearing two petitions related to health issues. One of the petitions is filed by Kohat resident Mohammadullah Khan against the alleged illegal kidney transplantation on his uncle, Haji Habib Khan, by a group, including some doctors, for Rs2.55 million. The patient died within two days of the transplantation.

The petitioner’s counsel, Malik Ajmal Khan, requested the court to direct the FIA and HCC to act against culprits and conduct a high-level inquiry against all those involved in the illegal organ trade.

The second petition is of contempt of court filed by Advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel requesting the high court to take action against the chief executive of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission and high-ups of the health department for non-uniformity in rates of health facilities, including laboratories and clinics, in accordance with an earlier order of the court.

The bench fixed Dec 17 for next hearing asking the Drap to reconsider its decision of excessive increase in drugs prices.

The court ordered the Drap CEO to submit report within a month about development on this issue.

When the bench asked the Drap CEO about reason for price hike, he replied that prices of only 94 drugs were increased.

As directed by the bench, the FIA deputy director produced a list of medicines saying there is a massive increase in prices.

Justice Qaiser Rashid observed that there were reports that the prices were increased due to pressure of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Asim Rauf said drug prices were regulated by the federal government for which a specific committee had been formed which decided prices in accordance with the prescribed formula.

Earlier, the bench was also informed by the HCC CEO that the board of the commission had been formed and was fully functional in accordance with the court’s orders.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2020