PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the federal government to produce within a month the progress report about the proposed drug policy prepared by the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (Drap) to regulate the prices of medicines, especially the lifesaving ones.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Ijaz Anwar was informed by a federal additional secretary (health) that there was difference on opinion on certain taxation-related points between the commerce and revenue divisions over the proposed drug policy, so the prime minister issued directives for them to build consensus on it.
Additional secretary Nabeel Awan said in accordance with the court’s orders, the Drap had prepared the proposed drug policy suggesting the production of raw material within the country to manufacture medicines for their supply to the people at lower prices.
He said the Drap sent a summary, including that policy, to the ministry of the national health services on Aug 23, which was subsequently referred to different divisions for opinion, including the commerce and trade and revenue ones.
Mr Awan, however, said there was a difference of opinion on certain points, the prime minister had directed the divisions to resolve it for the presentation of the summary to the federal cabinet for approval..
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The bench adjourned the hearing into the matter to Oct 26 ordering the filing of a report about the progress on the summary.
The bench was hearing three health-related petitions.
One of them was the contempt of court one filed by advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel for action against the chief executive of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission and high-ups of health department over the lack of uniformity in the service charges of health facilities, including laboratories and clinics, in accordance with an earlier order of the court.
The second petition is filed by Kohat resident Mohammadullah Khan against the alleged illegal kidney transplantation to his uncle, Haji Habib Khan, by a group, including some doctors, for Rs2.55 million in the year 2018. The patient died within two days of the surgery.
The third petition is filed by MPA Nighat Orakzai against the last year’s notification by the national health services ministry to allow drug manufacturers and importers an increase of 70 per cent in drug prices.
In her petition, the MPA, who belongs to the opposition PPP, said by allowing 70 per cent increase to drug manufacturers and importers of their existing maximum retail price (MRP), the Drap, health ministry and Drap director (costing and pricing) had overstepped their powers and violated the Drug Act, 1976, and Drap Act, 2012.
She requested the court to declare the impugned notification of July 15, 2020, to be in negation of the fundamental rights of the people contained in the Constitution.
Additional attorney general Aamir Javed, additional advocate general Syed Sikander Hayat Shah, Drap chief executive officer Asim Rauf and other officials also appeared before the bench. The counsel for the petitioners included advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakahel, Malik Ajmal Khan and Barrister Waqar.
During hearing, the chief justice e observed that almost 600 per cent hike had been reported in the prices of lifesaving drugs during last three years.
He observed that the prices of different types of insulin were enhanced manifold, while the government knowing well that the drug was essential for diabetic patients.
The bench observed that the relevant departments slumbered until the courts took notice of the issue.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021