ECC defers price increase of 119 drugs

Industry’s demand of 38% increase in price shown red light by govt 

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet on Monday deferred summaries of the Ministry of National Health Services on fixation Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of 54 new drugs and increase in prices of 119 drugs.

Federal minister Ishaq Dar presided over the meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet. 

The ECC considered a summary of Ministry of National Health Services for maximum retail price of 100 mg Remdesivir injection for the treatment of Covid-19 and decided to not increase its price. The existing MRP of Rs 1,892/vial is fixed.

A simmering price dispute between the pharmaceutical industry and the federal government has resulted in an acute shortage of critical medicines, forcing patients to rely on smuggled and potentially counterfeit drugs at increased costs.

The industry demands a 38% increase in price to grapple with rising production costs owing to inflation and devaluation of the local currency in recent months. 

The government, however, has rejected the demand, propelling pharmaceutical companies to either stop or go into a limited-scale production of scores of essential and non-essential medicines.

Making matters worse, the importers have stopped or drastically reduced the imports of about 100 crucial medicines related to general anesthesia, plasma-derived products, vaccines, oncology products, and biological products, causing a dearth of medicines across the country.

Earlier, president of Pakistan Media Association (PMA), Usman Mako, said that, “We suggest that instead of increasing prices, the government and the pharmaceutical industry together share the burden of inflation and rupee devaluation”.

Reportedly, a senior official from the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) claimed that pharmaceutical companies are “not exactly in loss” but their profits are shrinking.

“There is an estimated 20-25% loss in that pharmaceutical companies are currently enduring due to the dollar-rupee disparity and rising inflation. But to claim that they are not in a position to run their businesses is not true,” he added.

Other developments 

The ECC considered and approved a summary of Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) regarding arrangement of Finance Facility for funding Government of Balochistan’s share obligation in Reko-Diq project. The dispute settlement with directions to the Finance Division to arrange payment of markup amounting to Rs 6.23 billion for the period from March 31, 2022 to December 30, 2022 to the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for the short term finance facility of Rs 65 billion. 

The ECC also deferred a summary of the Ministry of Aviation on the engagement of International Finance Corporation as transaction advisor for the outsourcing of three airports.

 

Shahzad Paracha
Shahzad Paracha
The writer is a member of Pakistan Today's Islamabad bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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