KARACHI: The Transp-arency International (TI) Pakistan has urged the federal government put a complete ban on private import of Covid-19 vaccine for commercial sale in the country.
In a letter written to the ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination (NHSR&C) former Justice Nasira Iqbal - Vice Chairperson TI Pakistan pointed out that the Drug Pricing Policy 2018 clearly defines the mechanism for hardship cases as quoted below:
For imported drugs in finished form and local labelling & cartooning
Trade Price = (Landed cost + packaging cost) + mark-up @ 45% provided that in case of anti-cancer, biological, immunosuppressant and anti-retroviral drugs, that mark-up shall be 40%.
In case of imported drugs in finished form and finished import & local packaging, MRP shall be calculated by grossing up trade price to provide for retail discount @ 15% (for biological, immunosuppressant drugs). (Annex – B)
The letter said internationally, single dose of Sputnik V cost $10. If we apply DRAP pricing formula Sputnik V two doses price in Pakistan should be Rs 1600 + 40% = 2240*2 = 4480.
However, the DRAP approved price for two doses is Rs. 8, 449 which is 89pc higher. The above shows that the DRAP has violated Drug Pricing Policy 2018.
It said the retail price for a single dose Sputnik V vaccine in India is less than INR 734. With this rate, taking into consideration the currency value difference, a single dose of Sputnik V vaccine should cost approx. Rs. 1500 in Pakistan.
The TI Pakistan said pointed out that there is no Court order on commercial import of COVID-19 vaccine, which was the main objection of TI Pakistan in its letter dated 22nd March 2021, and Supreme Court of Pakistan has already taken up Suo Motu on COVID-19 related procurement by the government.
Third, the government said “as a deliberate policy tool, allowed private sector to import vaccine to cater to those segments of the society, which were not on the immediate priority list of the government”.
TI pointed that such a policy is a tool to exacerbate the already existing inequality in Pakistan. People who want to bypass the priority list, and get vaccinated first, they are already travelling to other countries to get vaccinated on priority basis.
The letter further said the government should not encourage such a policy of favoring a certain section of the society at the cost of transparency.
It is also not clarified as to why Pakistan is the only country in the world to allow private import of COVID-19 vaccine for commercial sale.
The biggest apprehension of TI Pakistan is that with the permission of commercial sale of the COVID-19 vaccine, there are possibilities that some of the government’s vaccine may end up illegally in the private hospitals for commercial sale.
“There are also news reports that the decision to allow private sector to import COVID vaccine has been done under pressure. Therefore, to avoid such controversies, it is important that the Ministry of National Health Sciences, Regulation & Coordination put a complete ban on private import of vaccine for commercial sale in Pakistan,” it concluded.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021