It is highly distressing that the prices of medicines have been allowed to rise steadily in our country so that very soon they may get entirely out of the common man’s reach. The prices in Bangladesh, for example, are half of what they are in Pakistan. Market manipulation by drug companies and involvement of unscrupulous bureaucracy are the main factors here. A medicine’s actual basic salt is in miniscule quantities of few milligrams, or micrograms which is too little to make a tablet so additional extraneous material has to be added, which is often manipulated to make the medicine look more appealing and high priced. For example, a common pain-killer such as aspirin made by one company may be priced at paisa 10 only, while another company gives it a fancy brand name and a colorful covering to charge Rs.10 for the same medicine. Then some new medicines coming out of western firms are imported at cut-throat prices. In India such drugs are decoded through reverse-engineering and by some little molecular reshuffling are turned into a generic product and sold at nominal prices to their people. One such example is the recently introduced anti-hepatitis C medicine that costs Rs. One lakh per tablet in the international market but has been manufactured in India through the above-mentioned process and is sold there for below Rs.100 per tablet.

The government is requested to rein in its bureaucracy to control medicine prices and compel the drug companies to manufacture each medicine in two formats; one in cheap generic form for the poor common man and the other branded one for their own profit-making.

KALEEMULLAH,

Muzaffargarh, January 30.