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ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on Friday said the federal government increased the prices of medicines to "end the black market of medicines and ensure their availability in the market where they were illegally sold at extremely high prices."

At the Senate session presided over by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, the minister informed the upper house of the Parliament that drugs suppliers and middlemen had created artificial shortage of those medicines whose prices were quite low. "This was affecting not only the consumers but also the shopkeepers (retailers)," he told the Senate while responding to a question regarding unprecedented increase in the prices of medicines that has adversely affected a common man, during Question Hour.

"If the price of a tablet was, let's said, Rs 2, its artificial shortage was created and it was sold in black market at Rs 40 or Rs 50. We have increased its price from Rs 2 to Rs 7 and this has helped ensuring the availability of that drug in the market. Theoretically, you can say the increase in the price from Rs 2 to Rs 7 shows an increase of 300 per cent but practically this has effectively countered the black market and provided relief to consumers who were forced to buy the same medicine in black market at Rs 40 or Rs 50," he said.

Responding to a calling attention notice moved by Barrister Javed Abbasi from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) regarding the unregistered pharmacies and medical stores in the country being run without properly qualified and licensed pharmacists with particular reference to dysfunctional status of the Pharmacy Council of Pakistan (PCP) since September, 2019; the minister said the federal government is hiring five kanals of land to set up new PCP office. In addition, he said the government is introducing service bylaws related to PCP and initiating organizational restructuring to make PCP fully functional and effective.

"We are doing a lot to put the affairs of PCP in order which has been rendered dysfunctional. But I want to ask my PML-N colleagues, why service by laws were not framed during the three tenures of PML-N in power? This body was formed in 1967. Ever since coming into power, what we did to strengthen PCP was not done since the creation of PCP in 1967," he said.

Earlier, Abbasi, the PML-N senator, accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led federal government of being "totally oblivious" to health sector. "Prime Minister Imran Khan is effectively the health minister of the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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