ISLAMABAD    -   Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) yesterday expressed concerns over the approval of increase in prices of 94 life-saving drugs by the federal government to ensure their availability in the market.

In a statement issued here, the PMA said, “It categorically rejects this increase. This is against the rights of the people. The life-saving drugs should always be available at low prices”.

It also said that it is very distressing that instead of providing any relief to masses, the government has increased the medicine prices, which were already out of reach of the poor people.

In such conditions when there is scarcity of health facilities in public sector hospitals, this increase of medicine prices will add to the miseries of the people.

According to reports, some of the essential and life saving drugs whose prices have been increased are Carbamazepine tablets and suspension (epilepsy),  Hydroxyurea, Daunorubicin, Bleomycin (for cancer), Magnesium Sulphate (to treat seizures due to pre-eclampsia during pregnancy),   Furosemide injections (for emergency use in high blood pressure), Acetazolamide tablets (glaucoma), Hydralazine tablets (for lowering blood pressure), Atropine Sulphate injection (used in emergencies), Nitroglycerin and Glyceryl Trinitrate (emergency heart medicines) and anti-rabies vaccine.

The PMA said that 50 percent population of the country lives below the poverty line; these people visit public hospitals for their medical treatment while the conditions of the public hospitals are very poor. The statement said that the medicines are not available at these hospitals and people are compelled to buy medicines from medical stores outside the hospitals. It is the responsibility of the government to improve these facilities, the PMA said.

It added that the government should provide free medicine to all the patients coming to government-run hospitals. Often essential drugs like blood pressure and anti-psychotic drugs are unavailable at stores and are sold in black, it mentioned.