ISLAMABAD - The ministry for national health services, regulations & coordination has constituted a three-member committee to monitor the pharmaceutical market and report on any violation of the pricing regime.

Saira Afzal Tarar, minister for national health services, regulations & coordination, constituted the committee headed by chief executive officer of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) on the directions of the prime minister who took notice of media reports of unilateral and illegal price hike by certain pharmaceutical companies up to 30 per cent.

The ministry in a report to the prime minister also stated, "The information in the news item was factually incorrect/twisted." The ministry's findings on the basis of market survey and records of DRAP revealed that the old price of Memomax 1.5mg capsules was already Rs 2100 per 60 capsules and the information in the news item for increase in price from Rs 142 to Rs 2205 was incorrect. Regarding the increase in price of Serenece ampoule 5mg/ml from Rs 23 to Rs 191 it said that it was also incorrect as the price of tablet was compared with the price of injection and the price of Rs 191 is for 25 ampoules after 15 per cent increase.

Likewise, the report says that the increase in prices of Omixim 200mg/5ml Suspension, Vaptor 10mg tablets, Zeemox 1mg tablets, and Amoxil 250 mg capsules were also wrongly compared or reported and the prices were increased by the company at 15 per cent.

In an emergency meeting on Monday, the minister directed that stern action be taken against violators of the government's pricing regime. "The DRAP has already directed its field offices and the provincial governments to remain vigilant on any unauthorised increase in prices of drugs and take appropriate legal action against the defaulters."

The DRAP on the orders of the Prime Minister on November 29, 2013 had withdrawn the notification that allowed 15 per cent increase in prices of drugs (excluding some categories), however, Sindh High Court granted stay orders which upheld the 15 per cent price increase notification. The DRAP is contesting this stay order with the assistance of the office of the attorney general of Pakistan.

On September 17, 2013, the DRAP filed an application in the Supreme Court against all companies who had increased prices without approval of the federal government and after obtaining stay orders from various courts, mostly from the Sindh High Court, Karachi.

The Supreme Court in hearing of the case on March 20, 2014, fixed case of unauthorised price increase by the pharmaceutical companies for the 3rd week of April 2014 and directed DRAP to submit a comprehensive report on the matter. The court further directed to issue notices to all such companies.

The Young Pharmacists' Association (YPA) had also sent a letter to the prime minister, in which it stated that the total impact of the increase in the prices of registered allopathic medicines was around 30 per cent. But Pakistan Pharmacists Association (PPA) President Dr Khalid Bokhari maintains that PPA is the only legal and registered representative body of the pharmacists under the pharmacy act.

 

And such groups formed in the name of pharmacists' association are fake and are working for vested interests of some groups. The government should develop a mechanism to increase the prices of drugs in genuine cases so that the companies do not have to move courts for relief, he added.