Ministry of National Health Services has denied approving an increase in the prices of essential drugs. A clarification issued on Sunday said that the government has not approved a price hike for essential medicines and that the hike was due under the Drug Pricing Policy 2018.
The spokesperson of the ministry said that the new drug policy gave the manufacturer a right to increase prices by 7 percent and 17 to 10 percent every year, without the intervention of the government. He mentioned that any hike by the pharmaceutical industry will not come until September.
He said that the Drug Pricing Policy 2018 was revised by the federal government to draw parallels with the Drug Act 1976 and to remove legal lacunas.
The DRAP has recently notified the amendments made by the government to Drug Pricing Policy, 2018. According to this, the government has created a step-in clause in the pricing policy whereby it can exclude any category of drugs from an annual increase of price.
He refuted media reports that the government approved the latest price increase, saying that it has assurance from the pharmaceuticals that they will not apply for an annual raise at least till September.
Despite written assurances, several pharma companies have backtracked on their commitment as they have applied for an annual increase in prices.
The government, however, has the right to intervene and freeze any or all drug prices to safeguard the public interest during the COVID-19 situation, the spokesperson added.