Islamabad-Transparency International Pakistan on Wednesday declared the Drugs Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP)’s reply on recent extraordinary increase in drugs prices as unsatisfactory.
A letter written to the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) by TIP expressed dissatisfaction upon the reasons given by the DRAP to increase the prices.
The TIP raised several questions on the answers submitted by the DRAP on the recent price hike. The letter available with The Nation said, “This is to bring into notice of the Secretary that clarification given by DRAP on 24th April on TIP Pakistan letter dated April 4 is silent on serious observations”.
The letter asked to give reasons for increase of drug prices 3 times within a period of 12 months by the DRAP through SROs issued on 19th January, 2018, 30th December, 2018 and 10th January, 2019.
It also asked to explain the circumstances leading to revision of the drug pricing regulations within short period of 3 years as the price regulations were issued in 2015.
The Supreme Court did not order DRAP to make new Drug Pricing Policy 2013, as it’s in Supreme Court order in HRC Case 2858/2006 on 28th February, 2018, said the letter.
The letter said that even then the DRAP prepared a new pricing policy which was announced on June 6, 2018 and submitted in the court in Aug 18 after 6 months of Supreme Court’s order. This was a gross violation by the DRAP of the Supreme Court’s order, which were binding on the DRAP in submitting the resolution of the issue within 30 days of the Supreme Court’s order.
According to the letter, the Supreme Court has also in the same order of 28th February 2018 directed, “We also direct that all pharmaceutical companies, within a period of 3 months, shall implement and enforce a bar code not only on the box but also on the wrappers affixed upon the containers/ bottles of the pharmaceutical products.”
The letter said that the increase of the factor on the cost of manufacturing from 70% in 2015 to 240%/ 355% by DRAP in 2018, through the Drug Pricing Policy did not appear to be supported on any rational basis. It said that why the mark-up/factor had been increased by five times?
The effect of dollar depreciation or inflation is already included in the cost of manufacturing of drugs and not on factor/mark-up and the remaining factors are also percentage based that result is an inbuilt increase mechanism.
The factor on the cost of cost of manufacturing including the marketing cost distribution discounts and profits, the ambiguity is not clarified in DRAP’s reply.
This is also to inform the Secretary that the complainant has provided in a document that DRAP has requested Auditor general of Pakistan on 12th April2019 to conduct a special Audit of DRAP for the period 2012-2013 to date of the Pricing Mechanism to ascertain whether prices of drugs are determined justly, in accordance within the laid down policy and as per law.
This information was omitted in DRAP’s reply dated 24 April2019 to TI- Pakistan, and how can Auditor General of Pakistan take out any ambiguity, when DRAP has requested Auditor General of Pakistan to audit in accordance with laid down policy, which means, Auditor General Pakistan cannot criticize or open the case of mechanism of Hardship cases increased by Five times from the mechanism of Hardship cases defined by 2015 pricing mechanism.
The letter said that the Transparency International Pakistan requests the Secretary to examine the above issues, ambiguities and initiate urgent measures to rectify the defects made in Drug Pricing Policy of 2018 which was also approved by the Cabinet and needs to be amended.
Transparency International Pakistan is striving for across the board application of Rule of Law, which is the only way to stop corruption.