ISLAMABAD - Health Ministry has proposed 18 percent across the board hike in the drugs prices, in a summary sent to the Prime Minister Secretariat which is likely to be approved.
The summery of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination will allow an increase in medicine prices by 1.5 percent per annum since 2001 to date.
The decision has been taken on the demand of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) and Pharma Bureau, the representative bodies of local and multinational drug manufacturers, which had demanded 50 percent price increase.
The ‘one-sided’ decision was taken in the fourth meeting of the Policy Board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) held on October 23. Ministry Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi chaired the meeting. Some experts and officials said that the matter should have been discussed taking all stakeholders onboard in the Drug Pricing Committee that works out prices to be granted, reduced or enhanced.
They said the decision is extremely unfair to the consumers as it will increase the prices of even commonly used medicines, besides those of the lifesaving drugs. Previously, only selective cases were considered for the price increase and it is for the first time that an across the board raise has been proposed, they added.
The increase may be somewhat justifiable in case of multinational companies as they import raw material from European countries that is expensive but the local industry import the raw material from neighbouring countries like china and across the board increase will benefit local industry more, an official said.
Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, however, maintained that the matter has been reviewed by a committee and the decision is not final yet. “The pharmaceutical companies have been demanding 50 percent increase in the prices of medicine whose prices have been not increased since 2001 while the cost of production has gone up to 100 percent,” he added.
“If you consider 18 percent price increase in the context that it is being given after 12 years at the rate of minimal 1.5 percent per annum, it is a meagre increase as the impact of devolution and inflation in the meantime is much higher – 95 percent,” said former PPMA President Jawed Akhai, whose tenure ended last month.
Price of almost everything has more than doubled. In fact, consultations, diagnostics, surgery, and hospitalisation, which constitute 88 percent of healthcare costs of any individual, has increased by more than 200 percent; whereas medicines constitute just 12 percent of overall medical costs, he said. If the industry is not allowed this relief, there will be severe shortages of medicines which will ultimately cause more suffering to the patients and consumers, he added.