LAHORE – Instead of forcing local and multi-national pharmaceutical companies to ensure availability of cost effective and reliable lifesaving drugs in the market, the government has allowed considerable increase in the prices of hundreds of medicines including the so called substitutes of what are called ‘orphan drugs’ by the medical community. Increase in the prices of so called substitutes has put ‘orphan drugs’ under more stress and as such nearly ruling out the possibility of their availability in the market. With the government support, all powerful local and multi-national pharmaceutical companies are increasing the prices of alternatives of tested lifesaving drugs to unrealistic level, decreasing production of original and reliable medicines having little or even no profit margin, and as such further widening the gap between the prices of original and alternatives. As such government is allowing pharmaceutical companies to earn huge profit by increasing prices of drugs while distributors and retailers are earning easy money by creating shortage of low cost lifesaving drugs at the cost of health and even lives of the patients. Medical community believes that the government should not only revise the prices of tested and reliable lifesaving drugs to give realistic profit margin to companies but also force them to manufacture and market these in the required quantity. Essential drugs including Thyroxine, Angised, Zyloric, Migril, Erythrocin, Lanoxin, Cafergort, Adalat Ret, Delax, and Cofcol have gone missing from shelves at pharmacies. These essential drugs are not available at medicine market at Lohari and medical stores including outlets of all leading chain of pharmacies. Lives of heart patients are at high risk as Lanoxin and Angised, drugs that helps controlling heartbeat are not available in the market. Thyroxine is an important drug in the management of thyroid hormone deficiency, Zyloric in treating Arthritis, Migril and Cafergort for acute migraine attack and Adalat Ret for uncontrolled hypertension. Really cheap and effective antibiotic Erythrocin is used in pneumonia. Its alternative drugs are not that effective and their prices are many times more than Erythrocin. The government has recently allowed over a couple of dozens of pharmaceutical companies to increase prices of hundreds of drugs including herbal medicines. The prices of commonly used medicines have been raised from 10-50 per cent. In some cases, the prices have been increased by 100 per cent and even more. The price of Carmina 75 tab has been increased from existing Rs 25 to Rs 30, that of Biomousse gel from Rs 999 to Rs 1500, Cyrocin tab from Rs 210 to Rs 223, Ronirol tab from Rs 410 to Rs 495, Calpol tab from Rs 140 to Rs 180, Vermox susp from Rs 30.27 to Rs 40, Nitrolingual spray from Rs 350 to Rs 400, Ezilax tab from Rs 360 to Rs 396, Hicap plus tab from Rs 400 to Rs 440, Lactogen recover from Rs 185 to Rs 205, Nido 1+ and 3+ from Rs 290 to Rs 330, Cerelac Orange from Rs 130 to Rs 140, Santevini plus syrup from Rs 64 to Rs 80, Tiger balm from Rs 125 to Rs 150, Molton S syrup from Rs 80 to Rs 130, Orpase tab from Rs 200 to Rs 295, Livercare tab from Rs 548 to Rs 636, Neo Lac powder from Rs 620 to Rs 640, Gynosporin cream from Rs 79 to Rs 89, Normitab tab from Rs 70 to Rs 82, Germinil oint from Rs 32 to Rs 48, Am Descol tab from Rs 84 to Rs 96, Mellow Powder from Rs 700 to Rs 775, Kempro tab from Rs 100 to Rs 135, Rozitin tab from Rs 170 to Rs 260, Keflex syrup from Rs 89 to Rs 102, Posterisan forte from Rs 137 to Rs 193, Teething drops from Rs 17 to Rs 25, Avil injection from Rs 200 to Rs 300, Monitor tab from Rs 57 to Rs 95, Pacifics DM from Rs 58 to Rs 61, Light Eyes gel from Rs 800 to Rs 975, Femidol plus tab from Rs 297 to Rs 385, Pantakure tab from Rs 133 to Rs 196, Rifazol pediatric tab from Rs 290 to Rs 333, Unitone 4 spf from Rs 850 to Rs 1050, Xed cap from Rs 120 to Rs 195, Fucidin tab from Rs 1503 to Rs 1900, Ciplet tab from Rs 120 to Rs 132, Phlogenzym tab from Rs 535 to Rs 562, Cefiget cap from Rs 295 to Rs 325, Theragran stress from Rs 107 to Rs 152, Digeplex syp from Rs 40 to Rs 50, Xanovit + tab from Rs 425 to Rs 495, Xanovit extra from Rs 650 to Rs 695, Calcipan tab from Rs 34 to Rs 45, C+ cap from Rs 270 to Rs 300, Metrozil from Rs 55 to Rs 67, Metwil XR from Rs 100 to Rs 137, Sizzle tab from Rs 125 to Rs 250, Calmease tab from Rs 90 to Rs 120 and Scicon tab from existing Rs 199 to Rs 210. Talking to The Nation, Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Prof Dr Javed Akram said that shortage of these lifesaving and essential drugs was a routine as there was no proper mechanism to safeguard the interests of the suffering humanity. He said that there was no substitute of orphan drugs. Referring to the reasons of unavailability of important drugs, he said that the multi-national companies pay no attention to meet the requirements of the patients as prices of these medicines were low and there was little profit margin. Prices of these medicines have not been revised for the over last 50 years, he said. Multi-national companies supply less medicines as there is little profit margin. They preferred manufacturing and selling other profit-oriented medicines to earn more money, he added.Local companies also show least interest in manufacturing these drugs due to the same reason, Prof Akram said. He said the government should negotiate with companies, give realistic profit margin on these drugs and ensure proper monitoring in the larger interest of the patients.He said that the government should consult medical community while taking decisions over revising the prices of drugs. He said that the government should own essential drugs and take measures to end their orphanage. President Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians Dr Tariq Mian said that the companies were manufacturing profit-oriented drugs and reducing production of lifesaving drugs having little profit margin. He said that there was no substitute of drugs like Thyroxine and Erythrocin but the companies were not manufacturing and marketing these in the required quantity. On the other hand, he said, the companies were increasing production of profit-oriented substitutes and the government was facilitating them by allowing further increase in the prices of medicines. ‘Government should force companies to market essential drugs in required quantity. It should cancel licences of companies not fulfilling the requirements of suffering humanity’, he said, adding, that less production of these drugs was creating shortage and patients were forced to look for less effective and even ineffective substitutes or buy original drugs at five times more price from the black market.