ISLAMABAD-Drugs Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) is indecisive about 11,204 drugs enlisted without fixation of prices and being sold at exorbitant rates, officials informed The Nation on Wednesday.

Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) in its special audit report on DRAP had raised objection that drugs regulatory body enlisted 11,204 drugs under the category of health and OTC products without fixing maximum retail prices (MRP).

Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) though stopped DRAP from further enlisting of drugs without fixation of prices; however no direction has been given about deciding on already enlisted 11,204 drugs without fixing their prices.

Officials informed The Nation pharmaceutical companies in connivance of DRAP earned billions of rupees because of non-fixation of prices, which later resulted in increase of medicine prices upto 400 per cent.

“General public paid exorbitant prices since 2015 due to DRAP negligence,” an official said.

The official said that the estimated illegal profiteering reached billions of rupees in last four years when prices were not fixed and medicines were enlisted.

The official added that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in 2016 recovered 1.08 million from illegal price hike of only 31 medicines.

“Meanwhile, it is the case of 11,204 drugs enlisted without fixation of prices,” the official said.

Officials also said that DRAP held a top level meeting on Tuesday to discuss the enlistment issue of the drugs and ended on division on the issue.

“One group wants to continue the enlisting of medicines avoiding the ministry’s direction by seeking help of pharmaceutical companies urging them to take the matter to court,” officials said.

Meanwhile, the other group wants to take action on the negligence and fix the responsibility of non-fixation of prices of the medicines.

When contacted DRAP’s spokesperson Akhtar Abbas he said that enlistment is underway since 2012 and DRAP has also responded the audit para accordingly.

He said discussion is underway on the issue of enlistment of the medicines following the rules and regulations and international practice will be followed regarding the matter. Abbas also said that if the authority made any new policy or decision on enlistment it will be implemented across the board.

However, he did not address the fate of previous 11,204 enlisted medicines without fixing of prices and holding anyone responsible for it.

Denying the spokesperson’s claim, a senior official of DRAP said that the authority was established in 2012 and SRO of enlisting the medicines was issued in 2014, while the enlistment of medicine without fixing the prices was started in 2015.

The special audit of DRAP came with number of anomalies in the prices such as medicines of same formula being sold at different rates.

It also said DRAP started enlistment of medicines without fixation of their prices due to which the drugs were sold at exorbitant rates under Health and Over the Counter (HOTC) products. Despite the fact that a number of products fall in the category of drugs they were sold as vitamins and nutrition due to which their prices were not fixed.

“Non-fixation of MRP of vitamins and other ingredients with monographs has led to the exorbitant price hike of HOTC products such as Black Moris (MRP Rs1990), Natural Factors Super Huial De Foi De Morue (Rs1950), Biotin Nature’s Bounty (Rs3100), Vegan Supplements (Rs1580), All Naturewise Product C-500 (Rs1250), Bon Health B (Rs1890),” it stated.