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ISLAMABAD: The country is facing serious shortage of some of the critical medicines including locally-manufactured nitrofurantoin administered to prevent a urinary tract infection due to pricing issues, Business Recorder has observed.

According to officials of the pharma industry and traders the locally-produced medicine was given a retail price tag of Rs1.44 which was not suitable to the producer as a result the companies have stopped production.

According to pharma industry and traders after the stoppage of the medicine by local producers only smuggled drug was available in the market which is costing Rs3,400 per 30 blister pack.

When contacted, a senior official of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association (PPMA), while requesting anonymity, said that only three companies were manufacturing nitrofurantoin.

He said that the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) had approved retail price at Rs1.44 per tablet/capsule which was not feasible to manufacture the drug locally.

Another senior official of the PPMA said that seemingly low prices and low demand in the market were the key reasons behind the stoppage of the medicine production by local manufactures.

He added that once five companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Ferozsons laboratories, OPAL laboratories, Wilson's Pharmaceuticals, and Geofman Pharmaceuticals were making it but now had stopped.

Business Recorder also observed a shortage of pneumonia and influenza vaccines, which traders attributed to the government's failure of timely importing the medicine, putting lives of thousands of children at stake.

However, traders said that recently Pfizer Pharmaceuticals has started supplying the above mentioned medicines in the market but Sanofi Pharmaceuticals as yet has not started the operations as a result there is a demand/supply gap.

Moreover, it was also observed, a vital medicine used for heart-related chest pain (angina) is short in the market.

Manufactured by a multinational pharmaceutical company, the life-saving medicine, Angised (0.5mg), is critical in an emergency.

A patient feeling chest pain/heart pain (angina) is suggested to keep it under the tongue to prevent risk to life.

Senior cardiologists and surgeons said the shortage was all over the country and its main reason might be the low price.

They held the retailers and distributors responsible for the shortage.

However, there was another opinion that the globally-recognised pharmaceutical company had either halted its production or limited it because of some other reasons.

When contacted, a senior DRAP official said that he was totally unaware of the nitrofurantoin shortage and would check with the relevant officials about the causes.

"We have engaged a local pharmaceutical company to start production of the Angised with same formula and now situation has improved," he said.

Business Recorder has repeatedly observed the practice of the pharmaceutical industry whenever want an increase in the price of any medicine; an artificial shortage is created to get desired retail price tag.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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