Pakistan to run out of medicines 'in a week'
In a letter to the Pakistani government, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association has demanded an increase in medicine prices, adding that all the factories across the country would be closed if the government does not increase the prices 'in a week'
Islamabad: In a week’s time, Pakistan might run out of essential medicines as 40 pharmaceutical companies have stated that the are unable to continue production due to lack of raw material and delay in their cases seeking price increase. The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) has given a one-week ultimatum to the Shehbaz Sharif-led government and said that it would close factories across the country if their demands are not met.
On the other hand, Pakistan’s health ministry has assured that it would make sure there was no shortage of medicines in the country, Dawn reported.
In a letter to Ministers of Finance and Health, and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), PPMA has demanded an increase in medicine prices. It added that all the factories across the country would be closed if the government did not increase the prices “in a week”.
Furthermore, it was stated that courts had not made decisions in their cases requesting price increases under the “hardship category.” If production costs exceed the maximum sale price, businesses may pursue legal actions to raise prices under the hardship category, reports said.
PPMA chairman Syed Farooq Bukhari said the association had demanded a 28.5 per cent across-the-board increase in prices. “In 2018, one US dollar was of around Rs140 but now, due to depreciation of rupee, that value has increased to around Rs270. Because of this situation 40 companies have written letters to the health ministry and Drap that they will not be able to continue production of medicines (after) one week,” Dawn quoted Bukhari as saying.
Pharma companies are witnessing a severe shortage of dollars, informed pharma bureau executive director Ayesha Tammy Haq.
“It is unfortunate that the government has dollars to import vehicles but LCs (letters of credit) are not being opened. A number of containers are not being cleared. We have run out of raw material. Moreover, there is massive devaluation of rupee as it has dropped by PKR 60 against the dollar in just one month,” she said.
Adverse impact of COVID-19
The pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan, which is currently going through a severe economic crisis, is majorly dependent on import of raw materials.
“Unfortunately, the pharmaceutical industry suffered a devastating blow as prices of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients i.e. raw material used in the manufacturing of drugs increased exponentially in the international market since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, factors of production like cost of fuel, electricity, freight charges and packing material witnessed unprecedented increase during the same period,” the letter read.
The letter further stated that the pharma sector repeatedly pleaded with the Shehbaz Sharif-led government and DRAP to take corrective action by allowing inflationary changes in the maximum retail pricing of medicines, which if ignored would lead to the collapse of the sector.
However, the Pakistani government did not take any measures in this regard, the letter added. “It has become completely unsustainable to manufacture medicines and ensure their availability beyond the next seven days,” it said.
(With inputs from agencies)
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