Drug Regularity Authority Pakistan (DRAP) is deliberately not registering the life-saving medicine of hepatitis to favour a ‘specific’ group putting the life of 20 million patients at risk, two associations representatives alleged on Tuesday.
Pakistan Young Pharmacist Association (PYPA) and Pakistan Drug Lawyers Forum (PDLF) held a joint press briefing here, accusing DRAP and 50 pharmaceutical companies for not registering life-saving medicine in the country.
Both forums are already in a legal battle against DRAP, and in courts they had held current DRAP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Aslam Afghani responsible for not registering the life-saving medicine as per law.
President PDLF Noor Muhammad Mahar claimed before media that around 4000 hepatitis patients’ daily die in the country and DRAP is intentionally not supplying quality and economical medicine.
“Since 2012, only one molecule of the disease has been registered in Pakistan while majority of vaccine is being imported in personal use category,” he said.
The pharmacist said on one side registration letters are not being issued to national companies and on the other side ‘blue-eyed’ companies are being authorized to import the medicine at personal level.
Without elaborating the names of companies, he accused DRAP, Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) and ‘club of 50’ pharmaceutical companies (including multinational and national) working with joint connivance to increase their own profit.
“There is medical emergency as far as hepatitis is concerned and under Drug Act, government is bound to make all efforts for the availability of medicines in case of medical emergency,” he said.
He also claimed in his statement that registration of medicine Sofosbuvir + Ledipasvir was granted on 5 October 2015, to the two companies but registration letters were not issued.
“One company demanded price Rs 1956 per tablet and other Rs 75 per tablet and illegal import permits were granted to import and sell both medicine at Rs 1956 since 2015,” he said.
He alleged, more than 200 life-saving medicines are short in the market and this artificial shortage has been created by mala fide intention of current CEO DRAP.
“Artificial shortage of life-saving medicine paves the way for price hike of medicine which ultimately benefits the 50 pharmaceutical companies working in country,” he said.
Replying to a query asked by The Nation, Noor Mahar said that CEO DRAP has served as an employee of one of the companies and his role as the top official DRAP could not be termed transparent.
“They are working to formulate ways and means to increase the profit of club 50,” he accused government and DRAP.
Dr Haroon Yusuf, General Secretary PYPA further said that FIA Lahore in February wrote a letter to DRAP that the price of stents imported from Germany is 20 euro (Rs 2500) per stents.
The pricing formula for imported drugs is to give 40 per cent increment on import price of a drug, so the maximum retail price of stents must be fixed at Rs 3500 per Stent, said, Dr Haroon.
“As per Schedule I of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Act 2012, the medical devices are drugs and whenever a drug is registered under Section 7 Drugs Act 1976, its price must be fixed under Section 12 of Drugs Act,” he said.
PYPA representative said in his statement that patients are getting stents between Rs 100000-250000 while DRAP officials are trying to remove the device from Drug Act to de-control the prices.
Chairman DLF Mohammad Usman said that some sections in government with joint connivance of big pharmaceutical companies are working not to introduce the generic prices of medicine, which will cut the profit of companies.
“DRAP is misguiding every legal platform regarding policy making regarding price control of medicine and stents,” he said.
He said National Accountability Bureau (NAB) earlier had recovered Rs 1.5 billion on a reference filed regarding embezzlement of medicine in the past.
“Chief Minister (CM) Sindh has also written a letter to health department calling a joint investigation against DRAP on decontrolling prices of stents,” he said.
Representatives from both forums pleaded before government to take action against allegations levelled on DRAP and NHS officials.
Basharat, Rahul. DRAP not registering hepatitis medicine ‘deliberately’. The Nation, April 5, 2017.