LAHORE -  The Pakistan Young Pharmacists Association and Drug Lawyers Forum held a demonstration outside Lahore press Club Thursday to protest against expected 15 per cent increase in the prices of medicines.

According to the protesters, the authorities have planned to increase the prices on September 8 (today). Dozens of pharmacists gathered outside LPC in the afternoon to protest against pricing policy of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) and marketing of medicines with brand names.

Carrying placards and banners inscribed with the demands of not allowing further increase in prices of drugs and withdrawal of previous ones, the protesting pharmacists chanted slogans against officials of ministry of health and Drap.

Speakers demanded marketing of drugs with generic names instead of brands, investigation in alleged embezzlements in the Drap and withdrawal of previous increases in prices of medicines. They also demanded not bringing any change in the Drugs Act 1976 and Drap Act 2012 without taking stakeholders including patients and pharmacists into confidence.

Addressing the participants, DLF President Dr Noor Muhammad Mahar said that Drap was planning 15% cumulative medicine price increase on September 8.

He said National Accountability Bureau has recently recovered Rs1.7 billion from six companies for price increase and arrested five officials. But NAB, he said, was not taking any action against DRAP CEO Aslam Afghani and Amanullah. He said Drap was favouring Club of 50 for monetary benefits at the cost of the poor patients.

“Hundreds of lifesaving drugs are out of stock, leaving poor patients in the lurch since the promulgation of DRAP Act. Medicine prices are being increased quarterly by many folds without any justification”, he said.

General Secretary of PYPA Dr Hina Shaukat said Aslam Afghani was not notifying the National Formulary of Pakistan in Official Gazette as it would be difficult to increase the medicine prices.  Afghani and his kitchen cabinet embezzled billions and destroyed record of pricing, she alleged. She said that implementation of generic policy under Drugs Act would help decreasing prices of medicines 10 times. In that case, she said, DRAP officials would not get bribe from Club of 50.