ISLAMABAD-The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) after keeping the financial pressure on public for six months approved the reduction in prices of essential medicines by federal cabinet on Tuesday despite issuing the relevant price decrease order in June this year.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) Dr. Zafar Mirza in a press briefing held claimed approval of 15 per cent price reduction of 89 medicines from federal cabinet. However, as per the document available with The Nation, the Statuary Regulatory Order (SRO) of the 89 medicines was issued on June 19, 2019. Though the government claimed to reduce the medicine prices, the watchdog monitoring the drugs regulation declared it an ‘eye wash’ as public paid exorbitant prices for six months despite issuance of the SRO in June earlier.

Earlier in this year, prices of medicines in country were high up to more than 100 per cent and essential medicines became unaffordable for people.

The SRO issued on maximum retail price of medicines available with The Nation said “In pursuance of para 6 of Drug Pricing Policy –2015 MRPs of 89 Originator Brands were reduced and notified MRP of any generic shall be at least 15 per cent less than the MRP of Originator Brand.”

President Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PPYPA) Noor Mehar while talking to The Nation said that same price reduction was claimed in June 19, SRO and its strange government approved it now. He said that no reduction in prices has been done so far. He added that the prices were increased up to 200 per cent while the claimed reduction by ministry is 15 per cent. Giving an example of a blood pressure brand tablet, he said that price of multinational manufactured tablet was Rs400 while in generic version it was available in Rs23. He added that now its price is also Rs340 in the market. Mehar said that Drugs Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) failed in uploading the data of all registered medicines on the website and a smoke screen has been created before public and the federal cabinet.

SAPM on NHS Dr. Zafar Mirza in a press briefing said that federal cabinet approved reduction of the prices of 89 medicines. He added that as per 2018 medicine pricing policy for essential medicines say that the product enlisted in National Essential Medicine List has to be reduced up to 10 per cent every year.

He said that the price is reduced for three years annually and after availability of its generic version, the price is set reducing the 15 per cent to 30 per cent of imported version.

He said that a long list of such medicine was ready with generic version and 30 per cent increase was also to be done.

Mirza said that federal cabinet approved 15 per cent reduction and it will be immediately implemented.

He added that the essential medicines including cardiac, sugar and blood pressure and some antibiotics have been reduced.

Mirza also said that following the directions of federal cabinet, a review pricing policy will be prepared in next two months. He said national policy for reforming pharmaceutical sector will also be announced soon.