Byline: Shahryar Khan Baseer - Peshawar
THE Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan's (DRAP) policies are creating medicine shortages and also helping some companies create a monopoly on some of thir drugs.
The modus operandi is that some pharma firm colludes with DRAP officials who allow the firm a higher retail price on a certain product. This firm then pays another company to apply for the same product but with a much lower retail price, which the DRAP allows.
After this, DRAP reduces the price of the same product for all pharma companies in Pakistan, rendering the products unprofitable. Thus the other companies are forced to stop production and send requests for price increases to DRAP which they keep pending. This creates a monopoly for the company that started the scheme and a shortage of medicines for Pakistanis.
I quote the example of diclofenec sodium tablets. It was registered for many companies in the 1990s for Rs 80, when the dollar was at Rs45. DRAP has reduced its price to Rs60 when the dollar is at Rs115, while allowing a higher retail price for a few companies for the product.
This is an appeal to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to direct DRAP to provide data on all products whose prices have been reduced over the past five years. They can then check which companies got increases in retail prices for products to trace the culprit companies. Such practices create hurdles in the growth of pharmaceutical sector in Pakistan that provides many jobs across the entire supply chain network.