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Pakistan Medical Association says hike in drug prices ‘unacceptable’, calls for its reversal

KARACHI: Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) on Saturday stated that it was “extremely concerned” over the “unacceptable” increase in the prices of medicines by the federal government.

“The announcement of 15 per cent hike in medicine prices by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan with the consent of the federal government is highly disappointing and unacceptable,” said Dr S.M. Qaisar Sajjad, secretary general of the PMA, in a statement issued here.

“It is very distressing that instead of providing any relief to the people, the government had increased drug prices despite the fact that the older prices were already unaffordable,” he said.

He added that the painful aspect of the issue was that prices of lifesaving drugs had also been increased.

“In such a situation when there is scarcity of health facilities at public hospitals, this increase in medicine prices will add to the miseries of people.”

Dr Sajjad said half of the country’s population lived below the poverty line and they went to public hospitals for medical treatment.

“The conditions in the public hospitals are very poor. It is responsibility of the government to improve these facilities; and it should provide free medicines to all the patients coming to the government hospitals.”

The PMA official suggested that the government should consider some other ways to minimise the impact of the increased prices of medicines because of devaluation of the rupee.

“It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies through reducing taxes and cut in import duty of the raw material for drugs manufacturing and packaging. Vaccines and raw material for medicines should be produced in the country. Fake, counterfeit drugs and medicines’ smuggling should be eliminated on a priority basis.”

The PMA demanded that the federal government review its decision and withdraw the notification regarding the increase in drug prices to lessen difficulties of poor people who were already suffering because of the irrepressible inflation and bad economic situation in the country.

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