KARACHI: The Pharma Bureau, representative body of multinational pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan, has urged the government to swiftly announce CPI adjusted prices for medicines, as the drug shortage is becoming a crucial issue for the patients.
According to Pharma Bureau, for over a year the pharma industry has been urging the government to deal with the problem of drug shortages. This requires addressing the key issues of hyperinflation and massive devaluation which have increased the costs of manufacture and have but hundreds of medicines in hardship.
The industry filed for hardships, which have been reviewed and evaluated by the DRAP, and 262 hardship cases are pending approval of the federal government for over a year.
Talking to media, Executive Director, Pharma Bureau, Ayesha Tammy Haque on Wednesday said that the lack of access to medicines is a growing concern as the availability of both locally produced and imported medicines is decreasing, forcing patients to purchase medicines at a higher price in the black market.
Along with hyperinflation, she added, the industry-specific challenges, including labour and energy-intensive processes, high energy costs, water purification challenges, and import tariffs have increased the production costs significantly.
She said that the pharmaceutical industry believes that unsustainable and unpredictable policies in addition to excessive controls, have led to drug shortages, counterfeiting, black-marketing, unavailability of essential drugs and medicines being imported at significantly higher prices in the market.
Ayesha emphasized the necessity of creating a conducive environment and implementing long-term policies to revitalize investment in Pakistan’s declining pharmaceutical sector. Moreover, Pakistan’s import dependency for active pharmaceutical ingredients and packaging materials, coupled with the continuous devaluation of the rupee, exacerbates the situation.
She suggested the government to do away with price regulation and focus on quality regulation instead, to ensure smooth supply of quality medicines to the patients.
This shortage of medicines has resulted in the growth of the gray market, as this vacuum is being filled by smuggled medicines without any warranty and genuine medicines are being replaced by spurious and counterfeit products, she mentioned.
“The government should consider this plea as an SOS call from the industry to allow CPI adjusted price increase for the medicines,” she said, adding that the government acknowledges the issue, but is neither taking responsibility nor making any attempt to remedy the situation.
She further said that the pharmaceutical industry has been calling for sustainable policy making to ensure the availability of medicines.
“To support local manufacturing and enable export capabilities, long-term policies and comprehensive drug pricing strategies are crucial. By doing so, the industry can thrive, ensuring availability of affordable and high-quality medicines for patients,” Ayesha added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023