According to the ministry of health regulation, the price of a medicine can be increased only once in 12 months provided the increased price does not go above the maximum retail price granted by the ministry. To increase the price once in 12 months, the company must inform the ministry in writing in advance about this price increase. The ministry has a right to refuse or ask for justifications but in reality companies do not bother to get the approval from the ministry and increase the price after submitting the letter. The ministry, on the other hand, does not bother to ask for any justification. In this way companies tend to get better profit margins. This is yet another burden on customers. Now everybody wonders how the company gets the maximum retail price. That is the real story behind the ever-increasing prices of medicines in Pakistan. When drug manufacturing or importing companies submit their applications for drug registration at the ministry, they have to provide information of sources of materials and their prevailing cost.

Therefore, every company tries to compare their product with any of the top class company and mentions that they get all materials from top-class companies of the world with highest prices like in the US, the UK, and Japan. Thus they claim a very high price for their products. Approval of the high maximum retail price from the ministry of health is very easy due to high level of corruption at the ministry. When the drug company starts manufacturing the products, then they source all the material from the cheapest source (for instance India) of the world, even low-grade, and market the drug sometimes at 50 percent of the maximum retail price granted by the ministry or even less and still make profits at this price. So at the time of approval of material, the ministry of health is well aware of the source and price of the material. It also knows what sources and prices have been mentioned by the company in the drug registration application. If you ask ministry officials, they say they have not given any price increase approval to any of the medicine companies. Now you can well imagine how much profit they make at the time of drug applications for registration. There is a drug mafia in our country.

MUDASSIR ZAFAR ALI KHAN,

Karachi, December 23.