ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar Friday while taking notice on reports about shortage of cancer drugs said that the government was committed to ensure the availability of medicines at affordable prices, specially life saving drugs.

He said this while presiding over a meeting here at the Finance Ministry this afternoon which reviewed the availability of cancer related medicines in the country.

The meeting of all stakeholders including FBR, Health officials, Narcotics Control Board was called on short notice in response to a news item appearing in a section of media regarding shortage of cancer drugs in the country.

After discussing various proposals and reviewing the present position, it was decided that all hospitals including Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital would be issued No Objection Certificate against

Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (COPP) or free sale certificate by Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan for import of anti-cancer drug provided they submit Certificate of Analysis at the time of import.

This permission would allow repeated import of the same product without any restriction of quantity from the source for the approved period.

This applies to both registered drugs which are not available as well as unregistered drugs. Similarly the hospitals entertaining cancer patients would directly import opiod drugs which may not be available in Pakistan in order to ease the suffering of cancer patients. The decision will lead to streamlining the import of anti-cancer drugs in the country and address the issue of their shortage in the future as well.

The Finance Minister directed the relevant authorities to complete necessary formalities and implement these decisions by next Friday.

The representatives of SKMH thanked the Finance Minister and the government hailing these decisions as timely and a huge step towards the resolution of the issue.

The meeting was attended by Saeed Ahmed, Chairman Steering Committee on Islamic Bank, Advisor Finance Rana Asad Amin, Secretary Health Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Tariq Bajwa, representatives of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, Drug Regulatory Authority, Director General Health and senior officials of the government.