Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced on October 14 that a national medicine policy will be launched next month to address the issues pertaining to the availability of medicines, procurement, pricing, and quality.
The federal health minister explained what the policy will focus on and how it would be implemented across the country while speaking on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Monday.
“We didn’t have a national medicine policy earlier," he said. "The World Health Organisation recommends that all its member states should have a thorough policy to focus on medicines and their prices, quality, distribution, manufacturing and export."
Dr Mirza added that the policy will also cover access to life-saving medicines and their regulation. Pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals had also agreed to work with the government on this.
Replying to a question on the penalty for selling drugs for much higher than their market price, he said that Pakistan has a medicine pricing policy but it was never enforced.
“If a manufacturer is selling medicines at a higher price than its fixed rate then it’s absolutely illegal. We’ve noticed that some medical stores and pharmacies increase the prices on their own when there’s a shortage of any medicine,” the assistant said.
He said they received information from different cities across Punjab that a common household drug was being sold for four times its price, adding that action will be taken soon. Soon, a hotline will also be established where consumers could complain about overpricing, Dr Mirza added.
“In the next few days, we will completely ban the prescription of antibiotics in Islamabad,” he remarked.Follow SAMAA English on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.