Federal cabinet okays price hike for 146 drugs

Sources say there would be 25% to 125% increase in the prices of these 146 medicines

A representational image of medications. — Unsplash
A representational image of medications. — Unsplash
  • Increase in MRPs approved under hardship category.
  • NHS recommended increasing prices of 262 medicines.
  • Drugs include antibiotics, insulin, other essential meds.

ISLAMABAD: As inflation continues to impact the inflation-hit masses, the outgoing caretaker government takes yet another decision affecting the cash-strapped nation's citizens, this time around by greenlighting a hike in the prices of medications, The News reported on Friday.

Following a recommendation by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), the federal cabinet has approved an increase in the Maximum Retail Prices (MRPs) of at least 146 drugs under the hardship category.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the cabinet held in Islamabad and chaired by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, the cabinet approved the summary that the NHS drafted in the light of recommendations of the Drug Pricing Committee of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).

NHS recommended an increase in the prices of 262 medicines under the hardship category but the federal cabinet approved a rise in prices of 146 medicines, including some important antibiotics, anti-epileptic and anti-psychotic drugs, insulin and other essential drugs.

The sources said there would be 25% to 125% increase in the prices of these 146 medicines. It is worth mentioning that 70 pharmaceutical companies wrote a letter to the PDM government in February 2023, seeking an increase in the prices of 262 medicines in the hardship category.

The caretaker government was reluctant to increase the prices of these 262 medicines, which include both locally manufactured and imported medicines, causing an extreme shortage of essential medicines in the country. The pharmaceutical companies continued to produce these medicines in minimum quantity to avoid registration of drugs falling in the hardship category.

"The federal cabinet on the NHS recommendation has allowed increase in the prices of 146 medicines in view of the increasing rates of raw material in the international market,” a statement issued by the PM's media wing said.

Earlier, the caretaker cabinet had deferred an increase in the prices of 262 medicines in its meeting on December 13 last year. The prime minister said the government was taking measures for the provision of medicines to the people at affordable rates and was devising such policies which could also ensure the progress of pharmaceutical companies.

The premier also sought proposals for improving the performance of DRAP. He also emphasised action against the hoarding and smuggling of medicines. 

On the finance ministry’s recommendations, the cabinet approved the signing of an MoU between the Competition Commission of Pakistan and the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) China. Under the MOU, the exchange of information and technical capacity would increase between the two countries.