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Government Greenlights Price Hike for 146 Essential Life-Saving Medicines


In a recent development, the caretaker federal cabinet, under the chairmanship of interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar in Islamabad, approved a price increase for 146 essential life-saving medicines. The surge in prices, as reported by state-run Radio Pakistan, was recommended by the Ministry of National Health, citing the escalating costs of raw materials in the global market.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Kakar emphasized the government’s commitment to ensuring the availability of medicines to the general public at reasonable prices. He highlighted ongoing efforts to formulate policies benefiting both the common man and the pharmaceutical industry.

PM Kakar directed the preparation of recommendations to enhance the performance of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) and accelerate actions against the hoarding and smuggling of drugs.

Additionally, the prime minister called for suggestions to be forwarded to prepare a draft summary for legislation on the deregulation of drug prices, to be presented to the next elected parliament. The health ministry and Drap informed meeting participants that citizens could file complaints regarding the non-availability of medicines through the authority’s online portal.

The approval of increased prices for essential medicines comes amid a nationwide shortage of life-saving drugs, leading to the influx of smuggled drugs into the market. Patients are forced to pay significantly higher prices—three to five times the actual rates—to obtain essential medicines.

The drug crisis intensified following disagreements between caretaker Health Minister Dr. Nadeem Jan and the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) over the review of prices for 262 drugs designated as hardship cases.

While Drap had approved the proposed prices in November 2022, the caretaker health minister deferred the decision to the incoming government, causing a delay in issuing notifications. The pharmaceutical industry expressed concerns about the potential adverse impact on public health and safety.

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