KARACHI: Former chief of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) Dr Kaiser Waheed has said that if prices of non-essential drugs are capped again, it will be the patients who will be the ultimate losers.

The caretaker government had removed the cap on maximum retail prices (MRPs) of non-essential drugs, a move aimed at ensuring availability of medicines as pharma companies stopped or reduced making medicines that don’t make a business case for them – meaning their cost is higher than the price they are allowed to charge.

However, Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) has reportedly called upon Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to review the decision as it will lead to further increase in medicine prices. Its officials say the hike in prices will affect millions of people.

In response, Waheed said best practices have a stepwise modus operandi. The first mandatory thing regarding medicines is availability of effective and safe drug, and the question of affordability comes later.

He said inflation has gone up significantly and so has the dollar rate. This has pushed the cost of production for the pharmaceutical sector.

“Why would companies give up manufacturing if they have been profitable? They have stopped producing medicines because it doesn’t make business case – it happens when costs exceed revenues.”

The seasoned official added that there are several medicines in short supply, and were now selling for very high prices. He added that smuggled and counterfeit drugs are also taking their places.

“We want cheap things. We are okay buying cheap medicines even if they are ineffective (counterfeit),” he lamented. He said the government and the industry have little to lose and it will only be patients that will be at the losing end.

“Companies will move their funds elsewhere. Multinationals will move out. It will be patients that will be left without medicines,” he added.

He cited the example of Tegral that is used for epilepsy. He said the 50-tablet pack incurs a raw material cost of Rs950 alone.

“How can a company sell at one-third of its cost? Asking a company to do that is irrational. The company will certainly stop producing over incurring hefty losses,” he explained.

A survey of the market confirmed that the company is giving only one pack of Tegral to a pharmacy once a week. Its retail price is Rs330. However, it is being sold in the black market at around Rs1,600.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Tariq Qurashi Mar 26, 2024 12:38pm
If there are to be no shortages, let the market and supply and demand decide the prices of non essential drugs. The caretaker government made the right decision.
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Fahad Mar 26, 2024 03:30pm
@Tariq Qurashi, Problem is whole nation want cheap , subsidized and free stuff . Really fade up of this beggar mentality
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