ISLAMABAD  -  The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to twenty-two pharmaceutical companies selling drugs on exorbitant rates against prices fixed by the Drugs Regulatory Authority.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani issued the notices on a case pertaining to sale of different drugs on exorbitant prices. The notices were served after Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti provided a list of 22 pharmaceutical companies that had got stay orders from the high courts against prices fixed by the Drug Regulatory Authority.

The deputy attorney general told the court that although the authority had fixed prices of drugs, these pharmaceutical companies were selling drugs on higher rates which, according to him, was a violation of the Constitution as well as fundamental rights.

According to the list, M/s Highnoon Laboratories, Lahore, got a restraining order from the Lahore High Court on December 14, 2012. A drug namely, Budevair 400 Rotacap, is being sold by this company for Rs1,040, with a 471 percent increase, against the authority-fixed price of Rs182. Another drug, Budevair 200 Rotacap, is being sold by it for Rs755, with a 421 percent increase, against the price of Rs145 fixed by the Drug Regulatory Authority. Similarly, it has been selling Kestin Flash 10mg for Rs415 when it has to be sold at Rs125.

Another company, namely M/s Epla Laboratories, Karachi, which got a stay order from the Sindh High Court on August 13, 2012, is selling different drugs at increased prices. These include Bacimix Powder for Rs66.56 with a 233 percent increase against the price of Rs20 and Bacimix Ointment 15gm at Rs114.46, with a 129 percent increase, against the price of Rs50 fixed by the authority.

Another company M/s Pharmatec Pakistan, Karachi which got a restraining order from the Sindh High Court on April 20, 2012, has been selling Fastum Gel 30mg for Rs257 against the fixed price of Rs115.

Similarly, M/s W Woodward, Karachi, after getting a restraining order from the Lahore High Court on July 28, 2011 has been selling Gripe Water for Rs55, with a 38 percent increase, against the fixed price of Rs40.

Similarly, M/s Roche Pakistan Limited, Karachi, after getting a restraining order from the Sindh High Court on July 14, 2012, has been selling a drug Pegasys at a price of Rs13,000, with a 100 percent increase, against the fixed price of Rs6,500.