Islamabad - No consultant has still qualified to set the price fixing mechanism of cardiac stents because of lack of expertise, senate body was told on Thursday.

The meeting of Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (NHS) was held under the chair of Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi.

The committee discussed agendas including report on the pricing mechanism for stents, briefing by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Drug Regularity Authority Pakistan (DRAP) regarding negligence of manufacturers of medicines and briefing by health officials of Khyber PakhtunKhwa (KP) on irregularities reported in KP and FATA.

Secretary Health Ayub Sheikh briefed the meeting in pursuant to consultative meeting in the Prime Minister office; ministry issued a notification to check the irrational, restrictive and exorbitant prices and huge profiteering which makes the stents unaffordable.

The government issued notification for a price mechanism for printing of Maximum Retail Price (MRP) on the sale pack of stents and to place price list of stents in the cath lab premises by firms for clear public information.

Health official said that DRAP, for the pricing mechanism of stents and medical devices, gave two advertisements on April 5 and May 23, 2017 for Expression of Interests (EOI) for consultancy services in this regard.

The consultancy services were to cover the study/research for data determination of landed cost, components of operating expenses in storage, distribution, marketing & sale, expenses and margin/mark-up in percentage term in supply chain of imported medical devices including cardiac stents, defibrations, pacemakers, prosthetic heart valves and cardiac balloon catheters and suggesting for reasonable rate of profit of return on investment to importers.

The senate body was informed that in response to 1st advertisement, no EOI was received while on the second advertisement, two EOIs were received, but none of them qualified as per defined criteria.

The official termed it as lack of expertise by the bidders in the private sector as well.

Secretary Health briefed the senate body that nowhere in the world the prices of the stents are regulated while Pakistan is importing stents from 15 countries including US, Europe and Australia.

He informed that NESCOm and NUST have started a project to check the quality standards of the stents and the ministry has released the funds for the project.

However, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak expressed dissatisfaction on the quality checking mechanism of the stents.

“There is only system for the accreditation of stents while no certifying body exists to check the quality,” he said.

Secretary health also informed the body that ministry had received complaints regarding registration of 11 medical colleges.

“Addressing the issue, a committee was constituted at Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) which will submit its report in 15 days,” he said.

The Minister of State for NHS Saira Afzal Tarar also informed the senate body that PMDC is formulating a centralised admission policy in the private medical colleges.

“Punjab and KP are agreed for the new policy and soon it will be implemented,” she said.

She said that Punjab government has also offered to sponsor the beds at private medical colleges.

However, Senator Ateeque Sheikh questioned the credibility of PMDC on regulating the private medical colleges and hospitals.

“Number of PMDC officials themselves is running their own private medical colleges,” he said.

CEO DRAP Aslam Afghani informed the senate body that a comprehensive inquiry was held regarding negligence of manufactures of medicines and chemists on presence of a thin particle in the Plasaline injection on the complaint of a citizen Ch Anar Ali.

He said the complainant; however, did not reach the authority through proper channel and the injection with him was not checked.

The chair directed the authority to resolve the matter on emergency basis and inquire the issue from all angles.

Senator Hilal Rehman briefing the senate body on health issues in FATA said that the region is facing shortage of staff there as Mohmmand Agency has only 43 doctors.

He said that currently 275 doctors are working in FATA while the system lacks transparency and irregularities are reported.