ISLAMABAD: The drug regulator has notified price increase of various drugs according to the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) due to be increased since last July as per the drug pricing policy.
As per the policy 2.08 per cent increase for essential and of common use drugs (scheduled drugs), 2.91 per cent for multivitamins, cough syrups and other non-scheduled drugs and 4.16 per cent for lower price drugs like tablets costing rupees three or 5ml syrup has been notified.
The increase has been linked with the 4.16 per cent CPI approved by the federal cabinet last month.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) Act 2012 empowers the federal government to fix the maximum retail price of a drug to be sold in the market.
The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had approved the Drug Pricing Policy in 2015 which provided a comprehensive mechanism for setting maximum retail prices of drugs under various scenarios. According to this policy, the annual increase in drug prices will be linked with the CPI of the previous financial year with effect from July 1, 2016.
The first-ever Drug Pricing Policy introduced in February 2015 had proposed to freeze prices of drugs till June 30, 2016, however, hardship cases were considered within nine months for increase and decrease in prices to keep the drugs available in the market. The policy gives a mechanism according to which prices are regulated by automatic price indexing based on CPI and open hardship option. Annual increase in prices of scheduled drugs would be restricted to 50 per cent of CPI (with a cap of 4 per cent) and of non-scheduled drugs to 70 per cent of CPI (with a cap of 6 per cent).
The prices increased were due to be increased last year in July but delayed due to various procedural formalities as the Cabinet had to approve the increase.
Though, thousands of companies are registered but not all increase prices, said Drap pricing director Amanullah. Last year about 10,000 drugs had increased prices, he said adding we can’t say how many increase this year. Sometimes despite increase market forces like raw material and other aspects lower the prices, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2018.
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