Govt rebuts reports of approving drug price hike

Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has rejected reports that the government has approved an increase in prices of essential drugs.

A spokesperson for the ministry said pharmaceutical companies have a right to annually jack up prices of drugs by seven to ten per cent without the government’s approval under Drug Pricing Policy 2018.

The federal government revised the drug policy to bring it in lines with Drug Act 1976 and to remove legal lacunae, he added.

In doing so, the government created a step-in clause in Drug Pricing Policy whereby it can exclude any category of drugs from the annual increase of price, the spokesperson said, Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAP) recently notified the amendments made by the government to Drug Pricing Policy 2018.

“This all was done in the backdrop of an assurance given by the pharmaceutical industry that it will not apply for annual raise of drug prices at least till September 2020. However, it went back on its words and about one hundred drug companies have applied for an annual increase in prices,” he disclosed.

The spokesperson said the government has the right to step in to freeze any or all drug prices to safeguard public interest in view of the COVID situation.