A divisional bench of the SHC headed by Justice Aqeel Abbasi issued orders on a constitutional petition filed by Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association (PCDA) along with other Pharma Associations. The Section 7 is a clause which attempts to retrospectively freeze the prices of drugs from October 31, 2013 to July 1, 2016.
“The freeze on price increase is a violation of the restraining order passed by this court and this arbitrary decision by the DRAP to include Section 7 in the new drug policy will cause serious financial losses to the manufacturers as well as importers of drugs. Therefore, the SHC suspended the Section 7 till next hearing,” the court order said.
SHC has rightly taken the decision of suspending the Section 7 because the DRAP is not honouring its mandate to work for the availability of quality medicines to masses in the country.
Besides this freeze till July 2016, the DRAP had suggested price reduction of around 45 percent in drugs and that would prove highly devastating for people because companies that are already making drugs in loss would close down their operations.
The pharmaceutical industry did not get price increase since 2001; hence this heavy reduction in drug prices in the new policy is to render companies unable to continue with their production in Pakistan. Drug prices in Pakistan are already among the lowest in the region and the world, therefore, more reduction in prices just for ‘political mileage’ is incomprehensible and to surely prove dreadful for poor patients.
SRO-1038 of 1994 provided for annual price adjustments based on a transparent formula (local inflation and exchange rates) and last such inflationary price adjustment granted by the Ministry of Health to manufacturers was in 2001 while a few commercially unviable products received a nominal price adjustment during 2001 to 2012.