PPMA ready to help solve stand-off over drugs price hike
By Our Staff Reporter
Karachi: Calling for a review of drugs pricing controlling powers, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) has offered its mediatory role in resolving the stand-off between the government and multinational pharmaceutical companies over recent drugs price hike.
”We being the representatives of local drugs’ manufacturers are always available at any place to mediate the current dispute between the government and multinational pharmaceutical firms, but the middle course in the troublesome situation can only be arrived at when the government will be ready to review its pricing control powers for medicines”, said the PPMA’s central chief.
Speaking at a news conference PPMA’s central chairman Hamid Raza deplored that nowhere in the world, including in the most advanced and regional countries, the State has blanket control over prices of all medicines as being the case in Pakistan.
In this regard, he suggested the regulatory powers of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) should be confined only to globally accepted Model List of Essential Medicines’ of World Health Organization that carried all-life saving and other emergency medicines, essentially required for hospitals.
Moreover, the Section-12 of Drugs’ Act-1976 should be done away with or least amended not only for the survival, continuity, and growth of the local pharmaceutical industry, but also for safeguarding basic interests of the ailing citizenry, he added.
He warned that patients in the country would be the ultimate sufferers if the government continued to persist with its `irrational’ price control policy as “the situation has already become serious as between 70 and 80 medicines have virtually vanished from the market whereas their indigenous manufacturing was no longer a viable production option for the local pharmaceutical industry”.
Elaborating, he said that the medicines which are no longer available in the market are prescribed for treating Epilepsy, Thyroid, and for some neurological disorders.
Claiming that the government has not been entertaining petitions from the local and multinational drug manufacturers for reasonable increase in price of medicine in acute hardship cases of medicine production, he said that the government’s act freezing the prices of medicines since 2001 amounted to a disservice to the people.
“These hardship cases related to instances of medicine production where the companies could not simply meet the cost of manufacturing given the long frozen retail prices,” Mr. Raza added.
He said that under such circumstances, the local medicine manufacturing industry would no longer be a feasible option to continue with in the country and as such the ultimate sufferers would be the ailing community.
Urging the government to support the Pharma Industry so that it could meet its service and production obligations, he said that 15 to 20 per cent increase in retail cost of medicines was justified.
Speaking on the occasion, another PPMA leader Dr Kaiser Waheed said that it was due to `irrational’ regulatory and control policies of the government that exports of the Pakistani Pharma Industry had declined by US$160 million in 2015 from US$250 million annual exports in 2012, while on the contrary, pharmaceutical exports from India had increased by 10.3 per cent from US$10.4 billion in 2010-11 to US$15.5 billion.
He was of the view that DRAP should function purely as an independent autonomous regulatory body for Pharma industry and without any interference and influence from Ministry of National Health Services.
PPMA senior vice chairman Nadeem Chandna and zonal chairman Hanif Sattar also spoke on the occasion.