Arbitrary powers of pharmaceuticals
In the cabinet meeting of July 7, two unelected cabinet members, Advisor on Commerce Abdual Razzak Dawood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza strongly opposed the clipping of arbitrary powers of pharmaceutical companies by virtue of which they increase the prices of medicines without the approval of the Health Ministry. They insisted that these powers should remain with pharmaceutical industry.
One must praise the strong argumentation and display of spine by the federal Secretary Health Aamer Ashraf Khwaja, who confronted these powerful cabinet members and got abolished Para-7 of the existing Drug Policy. The anti-people Para had never been a part of Drug Policy of 1960s and Drug Act of 1976. It may have been discretely inserted in mid 1990s, if since then the movement of medicines on upward trajectory is any guide.
It was in the year 2000 that federal government seriously negotiated the issue of increase in prices of medicines with pharmaceutical companies and succeeded in 30 to 50 percent reduction. A substantial reduction was registered in the medicines required for the treatment of Tuberculosis, Cardiac complaints, blood pressure and diabetes control. On the contrary, from 2008 the prices of all medicines moved quickly on the upward trajectory and touched the crescendo in 2019. Till May, 2019 prices of 464 medicines went up by 75 percent. Abolition of Para-7 of Drug Policy is a welcome decision, reflective of objective thinking.