By Our Staff Reporter
Karachi: The health service ministry and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) told the Sindh High Court on Friday that the price of a hepatitis C medicine, fixed by the federal government at Rs5,868, should be declared fair in the interest of millions of patients suffering from the disease.
They were filing comments on a petition by the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) seeking the formation of a judicial commission to probe into the price of Sofosbuvir (400mg) tablets fixed by the government on Feb 9 through a notification.
The ministry and the DRAP submitted that price fixed by the federal government was fair, reasonable, and driven by the public policy of making life-saving drug accessible to hepatitis-C patients at an affordable price.
They submitted that the federal government had been fair in fixing the price and that was evident by the fact that some PPMA members had also accepted it and not found it as an unwarranted impediment to their freedom of trade.
They said the price had been fixed by the federal government considering the prices of the active ingredients of drug from acceptable sources and other inputs.
They added that the fact that many manufacturers of the drug had already introduced their product in the market and made it available at the fixed or even a less price showed that it was reasonable, besides the principles of administrative law have been well considered in fixing the price of the generics of Sofosbuvir.
They submitted that maximum retail price of Sofosbuvir was not fixed in violation of the Drug Pricing Policy 2015, but in relaxation of the paragraph 4(4)(i) of the policy by the federal government under its inherent authority to relax and amend the policy.
The federal government had issued a notification in exercise of its power under section 12 of the Drugs Act, 1976, they submitted, adding that no monopoly of any specific company had been created or supported directly or indirectly, but the newly-introduced products in the market will fetch their due share.
The court was requested to dismiss the petition as not maintainable.
A division bench of Sindh High Court, headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi, after taking the comments on record adjourned the hearing till March 10. The court also directed that identical pleas of pharmaceutical companies be fixed with the instant petition.
Assailing the government’s notification of Feb 9, the PPMA and a private pharmaceutical company had accused the DRAP of issuing the notification in violation of the Drug Pricing Policy 2015.
The petitioner submitted that members of the petitioner body would suffer losses in the wake of the impugned notification and will have to sell their products below the production cost, ultimately leading towards their insolvency.