ISLAMABAD-Ministry of National Health Services on Saturday urged the Auditor General of Pakistan to conduct special audit of Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan to ascertain transparency in pricing of the medicines.

In a letter to the AGP, the secretary NHS Capt (R) Zahid Saeed called for special audit of the DRAP for the period of 2012-2013.

The letter said, “To further instil public confidence in the authority, it is requested to conduct a special audit of DRAP for the period 2012-2013 to date of the pricing mechanism to ascertain whether prices of drugs are determined justly, in accordance with the laid down policy and as per law”.

An official said that the special audit requested would cover the fiscal year 2012-2013 to 2017-2018.

The letter said that the DRAP was established through DRAP Act promulgated on 13th November, 2012. The Authority is mandated to regulate allopathic, homoeopathic and herbal drugs; medical devices and medicated cosmetics.

It said that in view of its role that has direct impact on health and wellbeing of the people, the authority remains a subject of public scrutiny.

“The DRAP receives continued media attention alleging irregularities and malpractices regarding diverse areas being dealt by the authority as per its mandate,” it said. 

The letter said that it goes without saying that transparency and efficiency in functioning of the DRAP was of critical importance to meet the targets and ensure sustained availability of quality medicines to the masses.

Spokesperson NHS Sajid Hussain Shah said that the ministry following the directions of federal minister for NHS had written a letter to Auditor General and requested for special audit of the DRAP for the fiscal year 2012-2013 to 2017-2018.

The AGP had also conducted special audit of DRAP and found above Rs750 million financial irregularities in the department.

The special audit had mentioned Rs156.7 million irregularities in establishing of federal drug surveillance laboratory. The audit also observed that the DRAP management failed in utilising the Rs606.646 million central research fund (CRF) used for conducting research and evaluation of the drugs.

The senate standing committee on NHS while criticising the ministry for exorbitant prices of medicines, termed the price hike failure of the DRAP. Discussing the issue of price hike of medicines in the country, the legislators criticised the government and federal minister for health for unauthorised price hike made by the pharmaceutical companies.

The Senate body also expressed its displeasure and said remarked that companies increased the prices in connivance with DRAP.

The chairman committee Ateeq Sheikh said that a medicine had been manufactured at the cost of Rs25 and sold to customer at the rate of Rs590. He stated that a factory manufacturing one million medicine ampoules for Rs36 is selling it for Rs588 and takes all transportation charges from the customer also.

The chairman committee also said that the DRAP had fixed the minimum price up to the level where the companies could increase the price at their own.