Despite strict instructions from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, pharmaceutical companies in the country have increased the prices of life-saving drugs on their own. The average increase in the prices is around 30 per cent but there are drugs whose prices have gone up manifold.
On November 28, 2013, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) issued a notification increasing the prices of medicines (except life-saving drugs) by 15 per cent. The very next day, however, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice of the matter and on his direction DRAP withdrew the notification on November 29. However, 16 companies approached the Sindh High Court and obtained a stay order against the withdrawal of the notification.
An officer of the Ministry of National Health Services stated that the companies had increased the prices manifold. However, he added, DRAP failed to ensure the sale of medicines on the officially-fixed rates.
“Although according to the Ministry the prices were not increased since 2001 (except for a few cases in which permission was granted by the government), the fact is that the prices have gone up by 30 per cent in the last five months,” he said.
“As per a market survey, the price of a packet of Memomax 1.5mg capsule has been increased from Rs142 to Rs2205, Serenace ampoule 5mg/ml, which was available for Rs23, is now selling at Rs191,” he said.
When contacted, Director Pricing DRAP Amanullah said after the withdrawal of the notification about the prices some companies approached the Sindh High Court and obtained a stay order due to which it was not possible to force them to reduce the prices.
“DRAP has already raised the issue of 16 companies in the Supreme Court and the next hearing of the matter will be held in April. We have been trying to ensure that not a single company increased the prices,” he said.