LAHORE - Rejecting recent hike in prices of drugs, medics bodies have demanded withdrawing the notification and taking alternative measures for reducing cost of inputs.

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has announced 9-15 per cent hike in the prices of medicines due to increase in the value of dollar and its impact on the cost of raw materials and materials used in the packaging of medicines.

According to a notification issued by DRAP on Friday, nine per cent increase has been approved in the prices of life-saving drugs and 15pc in the prices of other medicines.

Spokesperson of DRAP said that the price hike in raw materials had affected the availability of medicines and vaccines in the country. “Pharmaceutical companies say that it is not commercially viable for them to manufacture such medicine,” he said.

Rejecting the viewpoint of DRAP, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) believed that there were other possible measures to compensate for increase in cost of inputs.

It is distressing that instead of providing relieve to the masses, government has increased the medicine prices which was already out of reach of the poor people, the PMA said. The painful aspect of this development is that prices of life saving drugs have also been increased. In such conditions when there is scarcity of health facilities at public hospitals, this increment of medicine prices will add to the misery of the people.

Fifty percent population of the country lives below the poverty line; these people visit public hospitals for their medical treatment. The conditions of the public hospitals are very poor. It is the responsibility of the government to improve these facilities. Government should provide free medicine to all the patients coming to the public sector hospitals.

PMA suggests that Government should ponder some other ways to minimize the effect of increasing the cost of medicine because of devaluation of Pakistani currency. It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies through reducing taxes and cut in import duty of the raw material for drugs manufacturing and packaging. Vaccines and raw material for medicine should be produced in the country. Fake, counterfeit drugs and medicine smuggling should be eliminated on priority basis.

PMA demands from the federal government to review its decision and withdraw this notification to ease the difficulties of the poor people already suffering from the inflation and bad economic situation in the country.