PPMA urges Govt. to review its Irrational Drug Pricing Policy

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 Pakistan’s Drugs Export decreases

PPMA urges Govt. to review its
Irrational Drug Pricing Policy

Price control should be limited to Essential Drugs Only 

KARACHI: Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association has urged the Government to restrict price control to Essential Drugs only as per list prepared by the WHO and allow Pharma industry to fix prices of other drugs. It has also offered to mediate between the Government and the Multinational pharmaceutical companies as regards controversy over drug prices provided the Government is prepared to review its Drug Pricing powers. 

Speaking at a press conference here last week the Central Chairman of PPMA Hamid Raza, along with other office-bearers of the association, said that it was high time the Section-12 of Drugs’ Act-1976 should be either removed or least be amended not only for the very survival, continuity, and growth of the local pharmaceutical industry but also for safeguarding basic interests of the ailing citizens. He suggested that regulatory powers of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) should be confined only to Model List of Essential Medicines’ of World Health Organization that is globally accepted as the list contained all life saving and other emergency medicines essentially needed by hospitals. Almost nowhere in the world including in most advanced and regional countries, the State has blanket control over prices of all medicines as being the case in Pakistan.

Patients in this country the PPMA Chairman said would be ultimate sufferers if the govt further persisted with its irrational price control policy as locally manufactured medicines with affordable prices used for treating common diseases would no longer be available in the market. “Already the situation has become serious as some 70 to 80 medicines are either not available or in short supply as their indigenous manufacturing is no longer a viable production option for the local pharmaceutical industry,. These medicines include those used for treating Epilepsy, Thyroid disease, and for some neurological disorders, he said.

He was of the view that the Government was in fact doing a disservice to its people by freezing the prices of medicines since year 2001 and now by not even entertaining petitions from the local and multinational drug manufacturers for reasonable increase in price of medicine in acute hardship cases. These hardship cases are related to instances of medicine production where the companies could not simply meet the cost of manufacturing given the long frozen retail prices, Mr. Raza remarked.

DRAP was requested to consider hardship cases of medicines applying for increase in retail price but it could not meet for several month and once it met, its decisions accepting or rejecting such applications for price increase could not be notified owing to unknown reasons and pressure faced by the regulatory authority. Mr. Raza said that in such a situation the local drug manufacturing industry would no longer be a feasible option to continue drug production and the ailing community would suffer as they would not get inexpensive local brands of medicines otherwise easily available in the market.

“We are not associated with any charity business but rather we are doing a business for a noble cause and it is our duty to ensure production of quality medicines on most affordable and reasonable prices for the local market and for doing so govt should support our industry so that it could meet all its service and production obligations. However, the Government has been on the warpath with the industry with its irrational price control policy”. He was of the view that now 15 to 20 per cent increase in retail cost of medicines had become mandatory and quite a reasonable option both for the consumers and industry given the inflation rate, Dollar exchange rate, and given the increasing cost of doing business as drug manufacturers were required to follow stringent quality standards for research, testing, production, and packaging requirements. Sovaldi is considered as a magic pill for treating Hepatitis C . Its cost of one table in the USA is 1000 Dollars, while in India it is 04 Dollars, while in Pakistan the locally manufactured version is available at the lowest cost just one Dollar,” he said.

Dr. Kaiser Waheed another former Chairman of PPMA speaking at the occasion said that owing to irrational regulatory and control policies of the govt, exports of the Pakistani Pharma industry had decreased to 160 million US Dollars in 2015 from 250 million US Dollar annual exports in 2012. On the other hand, Pharmaceutical exports from India had increased by 10.3 per cent from 10.4 billion US Dollars in 2010-11 to 15.5 billion US Dollars in 2014-15 as India is ranked third in terms of production volume and fourteenth in terms of value in worldwide production of medicine. It is essential that DRAP is run purely as an autonomous and independently working regulatory body for Pharma industry free from any interference of Ministry of National Health Services. Others who also spoke on the occasion included Senior Vice Chairman of PPMA Nadeem Chandana and association’s zonal chairman Hanif Sattar.