Drug Regulatory Authority has allegedly initiated a campaign against availability of fake medicines in Pakistan. Recently Supreme Court has been very active in aiding the issues of medicines however, in my opinion they have failed to address it from the grass-root level and take input from the main stakeholders. 

During the entire debacle between Supreme Court, regulators and pharmaceutical companies, the patient who stands at the receiving end of it all is neglected. More attention is paid towards regulating the price of medicines rather than ensuring the availability of quality medicines to patients of life threatening diseases. There is no point in placing a cap on the price of medicines when patients cannot even access them from local pharmacies. 

Medicines which are not registered in Pakistan have to be imported directly by the sufferers of fatal illnesses, burdening them with a cost of around Rs. 500,000 per month. Whereas a registered medicine in Pakistan would be easily available to patients at a price which they may be able to afford. Another sad aspect hindering the availability of medicines is that regulators are now taking 3 to 5 years to approve sale of new medicines, which is over and above the 8 to 10 years already vested in approval of these drugs from regulators in North America and Europe, that too through a stringent process. No additional value is being added in approving the already approved medicines. It’s not a drug pricing issue but in fact a Human Rights cause where authorities should instead focus on timely availability of medicines to patients living with grave illnesses. 

KIRAN FAROOQ,  

Karachi, March 27.