ISLAMABAD    -     Instead of putting its own house in order, the Ministry of National Health Services has initiated an inquiry against its official who had shows reservations over increased prices of medicines by the government.

Official sources informed The Nation that the ministry had taken action against Deputy Director DRAP Dr Obaid Ali after he officially expressed his concerns over the new drug prices.

Dr Obaid Ali in an official letter had highlighted the lowered prices of the raw materials being imported by the pharmaceutical companies. 

They said that Dr Obaid Ali had written a letter to DRAP high authorities on January 22 while the Ministry of NHS started inquiry for taking action under efficiency and disciplinary rules.

The official letter written by Dr Obaid Ali said: “In the beginning of new drug applications and subsequent import materials are purchased at exaggerated cost. This practice becomes the worst reason in calculating the cost of product manufacturing”.

The letter said that certainly it is wrong and badly deceives the entire methodology of costing. Coming follow on brands (generics) get prices corresponding to first one without considering the huge difference of material cost.

It also added continuation of import at overprices/uncompetitive price damages the economy too.

The official mentioned names of ten molecules including Lostartian potassium, Simavastatin, Enalpril maleate, Esomeprazole pellets, Amiloride HCI, Famotide, Atenolol, Lisinopril, Cefixime and Terbutaline sulphate.

The official raised his concerns as the raw material of these molecules in international market was decreased in 2015 and 2018. But pharmaceutical companies didn’t lower the prices.

However, the ministry previous month issued an inquiry order against Dr Obaid Ali said: “In terms of Rule-5 (i) (ii) of the Government Servants (Efficiency & Discipline) Rules,1973, the “Authority” i.e Secretary Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHSR&C) is of the opinion that Dr Obaid Ali, Deputy Director (BS-18) (Civil Servant) working in Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), Islamabad has committed number of acts of omission and commission as enumerated in the enclosed state of allegations, constituting gross misconduct and negligence”.

The letter said that whereas, by reasons given in the statement of allegations the accused officer to be guilty of misconduct and is liable to disciplinary action  which may involve imposition of one or more penalties including dismissal from service, prescribed in the rule-4of the (Efficiency & Disciplinary) Rules,1973.

It said that now therefore, the “Authority” has been pleased to appoint Amanullah, Director (Costing & Pricing) (BS-20) (Civil Servant) working in Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) under ministry of NHSR&C as “Enquiry Officer” to probe into allegations contained in the enclosed statement of allegations.

The ministry so far has issued two memorandums to Dr Obaid Ali; however he has not appeared before the inquiry and demanded from the ministry to present him the charge sheet.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Drug Lawyers Forum representative Noor Muhaamd Mahar also said that the ministry and DRAP have initiated victimisation of the individuals who resisted the recent increase in prices of the medicines.

Spokesperson NHS Sajid Hussain Shah talking to The Nation said that no one has the right to violate government service rules and procedures.

He said that the matter would be taken following the rules and procedures while no discrimination will be met with any individual.