KARACHI: The Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) is very concerned about the increase in prices of 94 lifesaving drugs by the federal government to ensure their availability in the market.
Secretary-General, Pakistan Medical Association (Centre), Dr S M Qaisar Sajjad, said that the PMA categorically rejected this increase and said this is against the people's rights. He said lifesaving drugs should always be available at low prices.
"It is very distressing that instead of providing relief to the masses, the government has increased the medicine prices, which were already out of the reach of the poor people. The painful aspect of this development is that the prices of life-saving drugs have been increased. In such conditions, when health facilities are scarce at public hospitals, this increment of medicine prices will add to the misery of the people,” he added.
Dr Qaisar Sajjad said that this increase would create problems for poor patients suffering from serious illnesses. He said that 50 percent population of the country lives below the poverty line; these people visit public hospitals for their medical treatment. The conditions of public hospitals are deplorable. The medicines are not available at these hospitals, and people are compelled to buy medicines from medical stores outside the hospitals.
He said it is the responsibility of the government to improve these facilities. The government should provide free medicines to all the patients coming to government-run hospitals. Often essential drugs like blood pressure and antipsychotic drugs are unavailable at stores and are sold in black. This makes people tense. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure the availability of essential drugs in the market.
He suggested that the government should ponder some other ways to minimize the effect of low prices of these medicines and to provide relief to the manufacturers. It could be done by supporting pharmaceutical companies through reducing taxes and cutting import duties of the raw material for drug manufacturing and packaging. Vaccines and raw material for medicine should be produced in the country. Fake, counterfeit drugs and medicine smuggling should be eliminated on a priority basis.
He demanded the federal government to review its decision and withdraw this increment of drug prices to ease the difficulties of the poor.