The medicine markets are facing acute shortage of some of drugs, especially imported medicines of Indian origin, a survey conducted by Business Recorder revealed here on Wednesday.
The survey observed not only a large range of the imported drugs but local drugs, for instance children cough syrup Tixylix, are also not available in the market. The vaccine of rabies is also short in the market.
Traders at Bohar Bazaar, the wholesale drug market in Rawalpindi which supplies medicines to entire Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Potohar region, while talking to Businesses Recorder attributed the drug shortage to Indian pharmaceutical companies' denial to do business with Pakistanis and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan's (DRAP) drive against smuggled and non-registered medicines.
The drug dealers also blamed the government for showing non-seriousness to address the issue, saying Pakistani pharmaceutical companies were hugely relying on import of raw material from India which globally accounts for 40 percent of the raw material. But following Pakistan-India tensions erupted after Modi-led Indian government abrogated articles 370 and 35-A to end special status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, Indian drug exporters have refused to deal with Pakistani companies, the traders said.
They said that imported medicine 'Festal,' which is used for the treatment of stomach problems, is not available across the country; children's cough syrup Tixylix is also not available in the market and tablet Ascard, which is used for the treatment of blood pressure, is also unavailable.
Traders said that Pakistan at present is not only facing serious shortage of cancer related medicines but supply of drugs, being used for the treatment of other diseases, is also short owing to government's policies and rupee depreciation. For example, imported vaccines for flu and rabies and Furolin, an imported medicine to treat urinary tract infection, are unavailable in market.
Traders said that during the last 11 months, the pharmaceutical companies have increased the medicine prices four times which couldn't be justified in the name of rupee depreciation or increase in input costs as in January 2019 the government allowed pharmaceutical industry to increase the drug prices but the industry since then has continued increases in medicine prices. They further said that in April the drug manufacturers increased drug prices in the range of 15-300 percent and in August the pharmaceutical companies brought another increase in prices of medicine.
According to drug dealers at wholesales market, the Pakistani pharmaceutical industry over the years kept on demanding the government to increase the drug prices as per inflation but the government didn't allow the pharmaceutical industry to hike the prices. However, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after coming to power allowed rupee depreciation and gave go ahead to drug companies in January 2019 to increase medicine rates in the range of 15-300 percent, they maintained.
The prices of injections used for CT scan contrast and MRI contrast have been increased from Rs 1,650-2,000 to Rs 4,500 and above. Similarly, import of Nutraceuticals Skin Active skincare products has almost been stopped.