ISLAMABAD - National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Minister Aamir Mehmood Kiani on Sunday said the federal government had taken stern action against pharmaceutical companies for unauthorised increase in the prices of medicines. Addressing a press conference here, the minister said: “Some unscrupulous elements in the pharma industry would not be allowed to increase prices over and above the approved maximum retail prices (MRPs) by the federal government.”

He said the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had suspended production of 143 medicines of 31 manufacturers due to overpricing in the market. During the ongoing crackdown on unauthorised increase in the prices of medicines, the authority had seized the stocks of 226 medicines of 59 companies, he added. The minister said the production activities of pharmaceutical units for their overpriced medicines had been stopped till further action as per law.

He said the federal government had approved maximum retail price of 889 medicines with increase up to nine percent and made it clear that the ministry would not allow anyone to increase over and above the approved maximum retail price.

He said the notification of increase in the prices of some medicines was issued keeping in view the increasing parity in dollar-rupee prices. He added it was necessary to increase such prices to ensure availability of life saving drugs in the country and to avoid any gap in demand and supply.

226 medicines of 59 pharma firms seized 

He said the matter of purchase of raw material of medicines from other countries was also another reason in official price increase as 80 percent of raw material was purchased from abroad in dollars. He said the notification of price increase was issued as per approved policy of the past government and in line with the directions of Supreme Court on the matter.

The minister said the prices of medicines were increased by the government on the basis of Drug Pricing Policy, which was approved by the past government of Pakistan Muslim League-N.

He, however, said the pharma industry was bound to increase prices by only nine percent as approved by the government on 889 medicines and warned of stern action on their illegal price increase.

He added that the DRAP had allowed only nine percent MRPs increase in hardship category and only 15 percent MRPs increase of medicines determined under the Drug Pricing Policy, 2018 for drugs other than those specified in clause (a). He said the federal government had issued clear directions to DRAP to take strict action against pharmaceutical companies selling medicines on exorbitant prices.

He said the authority had recommended registering of cases on overpriced medicines under the Drug Act, besides imposing heavy fines with recovery of overpriced amount.  He said cases would be registered against the companies on overpricing for recovery of the overpriced amount. 

He said action had also been taken on receiving various complaints that pharmaceutical companies had increased prices of their drugs over and above the maximum retail price (MRPs) approved by the federal government.

He said the ministry had also directed DRAP to conduct market surveys for determination of overpricing. DRAP had been advised to monitor MRPs in the market to ensure that the same were not higher than the notified prices. He said the Authority had also directed that in case of stocks available in the retail shops or manufactured or imported prior to issuance of SROs must be sold at previous MRPs printed on the label in the manner prescribed by the Drugs (Labelling and Packing) Rules, 1986 while stickers or cuttings were not allowed.

Kiani said the government had dispatched so far 2.2 million health cards to the deserving people. He said that 65,000 health cards were being printed on daily basis.

He said the government would ensure availability of medicines and other equipment at the Pakistan institute of Medical Sciences to serve the patients.