There has always been a tiff between pharmaceutical companies and the regulators when it comes to setting the maximum retail price of drugs and the matter has forever been controversial. We saw a 15 percent hike in medicine prices in January, however, the directives from the government, resulting from consumer opposition, made the DRAP to initiate a crackdown against unauthorized increase in medicine prices in mid-April.

As an aftermath, the news from the authorities came in that the subsequent price decrease was baseless and affirmed the 15% price hike. However, few days later it was announced that 464 medicines would be voluntarily cut by 10-15pc. It looks like a circus has descended as clearly everyone is blaming the other and presumably no one is ready to take responsibility of current state of national health in Pakistan.

In Pakistan prices of over 80% of the registered medicines have remained frozen since 2001, the regulators themselves have conceded that the cost of doing business may have risen by over 100% during these years of dormant prices. As a result, many pharmaceutical companies either exited from the market or stopped producing lower priced life-saving medicines thereby creating a shortage which in turn has led to a rise in spurious medicines being sold unchecked.

NUZAIR A. VIRANI,

Karachi.