The government has decided to limit the maximum increase in the prices of medicines at 75 percent after consulting the pharmaceutical companies. Before this, the companies were allowed to increase medicine prices by up to 300%.
This announcement was made in a press conference by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Health Services (NHS), Dr. Zafar Mirza.
Dr. Mirza said that among 889 medicines, 464 saw a price hike and the prices of 395 medicines were brought down with others remaining unchanged.
The 464 medicines, whose prices were increased, were frequently used so it drew criticism. Moreover, prices of all medicines went up by another 15% due to a devaluation of the rupee.
He added that the prices of 464 medicines increased under the hardship cases based on Supreme Court’s orders, following which, the government contacted the companies for negotiations.
If a company cannot manufacture a drug due to high costs, the Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAAP) can increase its price to make sure the drug can be made by the company. These cases are characterized as hardship cases.
The Special Assistant to PM (SAPM) also said that the prices of medicines that increased by 50-75 percent will be brought down by 9 percent. The government had announced on May 3 to withdraw a 9 percent increase for six hundred and twenty-five medicines.
“Moreover, reduction in prices of 395 drugs notified vide SRO dated 31-12-2018 will be implemented in letter and spirit since the Sindh High Court has disposed of petitions filed by pharmaceutical companies,” said Mirza.
For example, Solu-Cortef 100mg injection was available at the price of Rs. 86. After the hike, its price reached Rs. 238.71. After capping the increase at 75 percent, the injection will now be available at Rs. 150.50.
Mirza said that the government will save Rs. 10 billion after the reduction in the prices of 395 medicines. He also announced that the government is devising a national medicine policy to ensure access to essential medicines at affordable prices.
The SAPM said that the government will move the drug courts against the companies that have not reduced the prices of these 395 drugs. After recovering the extra costs from the companies, the government will submit this amount in the FATA Diseases Fund of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal.