The current boost in medicine costs capped at 75pc

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Health Services ( NHS ) Dr. Zafar Mirza on Thursday declared the current up to a 400pc boost in costs of tablets would be capped at 75pc. “Though costs of medicines were raised by up to 400pc the day I took cost ( April 23 ) Prime Minister Imran Khan directed reducing of the costs within 72 hrs. I began deliberations and finally it has been agreed that the highest rise in the costs would be 75pc,” he said to a media meeting.

Dr. Mirza declared costs of 889 medicines were considered out of which costs of 464 were raised and that of 395 brought down while the others remained unchanged. “The 464 medicines, whose costs were raised, were commonly used so it drew criticism. Moreover, the costs of most drugs went up by one more 15pc due to the devaluation of the rupee.”

Sufferers will now get an advantage of Rs10 billion in terms of cost savings on the buy of medicines whose costs went up by 400pc recently He declared like costs of 464 drugs was raised under hardship cases on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, corporations were contacted for negotiations. If a corporation claims that production of medicine is not viable due to the rise in the price, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan ( Drap ) can boost its cost to ensure the availability of the drug. Such cases are called hardship cases.

Dr. Mirza claimed that the costs of drugs which had been raised by 50pc to 75pc would also be reduced by 9pc. He declared costs of medicines would be made affordable for the common people. “Moreover, reduction in costs of 395 medicines notified vide SRO dated 31-12-2018 will be implemented in notice and spirit since the Sindh High Court has disposed of petitions filed by pharmaceutical companies,” he declared.

He gave an example of Ferrous Sulphate tablets which was available for Rs64.28 per 1, 000 tablets and whose cost went up to Rs218 ( 239pc ). Now it will be decreased to Rs112.49 for 1,000 pills, he added. “Another example is the cost of Solu-Cortef 100mg injection ( steroids ) which was available at Rs86. After the 178pc boost, it cost reached Rs238.71. By limiting the boost to 75pc, this medicine will now be available at Rs150.50.” Because of these steps, sufferers will directly get a benefit of about Rs10 billion in terms of savings on the buy of medicines, Dr. Mirza declared.

He declared corporations which had not lower costs of 395 medicines after notification of their costs would be prosecuted in the drug courts. He declared a mechanism was being evolved to channelize the recovered amount to Pakistan Baitul Maal to buy medicines for sufferers suffering from terminal illnesses. “To provide a long-term solution we are introducing a national medicine policy that will ensure access to essential medicines by the people at affordable prices.”

Dr. Mirza declared major reforms were being introduced in the working of his ministry and he would share his 100-day progress with the nation. An official of the Ministry of NHS said to Dawn that out of the 464 medicines the costs of 360 had been raised by up to 50pc, that of 52 by 50pc to 77pc and costs of only 52 medicines were raised over 75pc.“The ministry should hold an audit to ascertain the costs of raw materials at the international market. Some corporations are involved in the flight of capital through over-invoicing. As a result, the country is losing foreign exchange,” he alleged.

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