The federal cabinet has ordered a new drug pricing policy within two months, as the current prices in Pakistan aren’t affordable by the masses. This was revealed before the sub-committee of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination.
The committee met with Dr. Nisar Ahmed Cheema in the chair here to evaluate the performance of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) with a special focus on quality assurance of raw material and end products, registration of pharmaceutical companies and drugs and pricing of drugs.
Nasir Khan Musa Zai of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said that drug prices in Pakistan are above the affordable level of the general public as the industry increases prices in connivance with DRAP.
He said that the recent increase in drug prices gave a chance to opposition parties as well as the general public to criticize the government. He proposed that a uniform benchmark should be set which will help in controlling drug prices and avoid interference in prices.
CEO DRAP said that during the last cabinet meeting the Prime Minister directed to work out a new drug pricing policy within two weeks. He said that the committee’s recommendation in this regard will be taken into consideration.
The director of pricing revealed that up to 75 percent increase in drug prices was allowed after the approval of the federal cabinet and the policy board. He said that there were a total of 889 drugs, with the price of 395 reduced, 464 medicines increased and prices of 30 drugs remained more or less the same.
He admitted that the prices of some drugs were increased by around 400 percent. The director further said that as per the cabinet’s directives, the prices of 78 drugs where more than a 75 percent increase was made, were reduced up to 75 percent. The prices of 386 drugs were increased up to 75 percent and were not changed later, he added.
The committee directed to present the cabinet’s decision with respect to a 75 percent increase in drug prices, besides an analysis/impact of per drug cost after the increase in prices by January 2, 2020. The committee was further informed that 16 drug manufacturers refused to decrease prices.
The committee also asked to observe international standards in drug manufacturing without compromising quality and standards.
Dr. Nausheen Hamid, Parliamentary Secretary National Health Services Regulations and Coordination (NHSRC), said that donated hemophilia drugs are coming to the country, but if their expiry date is less than six months, they are returned from the airports.
According to the rules, drugs with less than six months expiry period can’t be imported, she further said and recommended that this period should be revised to three months. The committee endorsed the proposal of the parliamentary secretary and recommended DRAP to allow hemophilia drug imports with up to three months expiry deadline.