The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS) on Wednesday demanded that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government withdraw the recent hike in medicine prices.

The committee, which met with Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh in the chair, criticised the government over the increase in prices of medicine.

Briefing the parliamentary panel, Federal Minister for Health Amir Kayani said the government had to jack up medicine prices due to the depreciation of the rupee against the dollar and rising prices of imported raw material.

Besides, he said, there had been a shortage of a number of medicines in market and that pharmaceutical companies had approached the court to get their grievance with regard to drug prices addressed.

Kayani vowed that the government would ensure availability of essential medicines to the commoners. The federal health secretary explained that the government was under pressure from pharmaceutical firms.

Taking note of the secretary’s statement, a member of the committee questioned whether the government was so hapless that it would give in to pharmaceutical companies’ pressure and increase prices of medicine.

A Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) official said in all the prices of 889 medicines have been revised upward while the prices of 400 medicines had also been deceased.

He said the prices were hiked to keep up with the cost incurred on their manufacturing.

Meanwhile, the committee expressed concern over delay in the formation of the Federal Health Authority and decided to write a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan in this regard.