Bipolar and depression tablets are among the 40 medicines that have been shortened in the market since months, raising alarm bells throughout patients in the country.
Some experts term the shortage as a result of the “medical mafia” smuggling these drugs to countries where they can be sold at higher prices, whereas others blamed the rising dollar rate.
Patients appear devastated, especially the lower class that does not have enough means to buy the medicines at a higher cost.
Speaking exclusively to SAMAA TV, Mohammad Yousaf, a psychiatric disorder patient, said each tablet used to cost him Rs 5, but now the price is Rs 25.
“How can I buy I it now? I can’t,” he said. “I buy two tablets, and then I wait till I really need them. Only then I consume them.”
He added that the only thing possible now is to commit suicide.
It is pertinent to mention that even though months have passed by but the Ministry of Health nor the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan, commonly known as DRAP, have done anything to resolve the prevailing shortage of medicines.
Commenting on the matter, Dr Kiran, a medical expert who deals with psychiatric disorders, said there are three categories of medicines that are not available in the market. “These include methylphenidate, clonazepam and lithium salts.”
She further said, “lithium salts are used to treat bipolar, anxiety and various other disorders. Psychiatrists prescribe these regularly.”
Dr Kiran highlighted how lithium salts are needed a lot to treat severe disorders like bipolar. “Methylphenidate and clonazepam are used to treat epilepsy, other neurological issues and also ADHD, which is mostly diagnosed in children.”
She accepted that the shortage of these missions has proven to be an issue for doctors as well. “We are definitely facing issues.”
Medicines that are used to treat suicidal thoughts are also not available in the market. Another medical expert, Dr Rashid Khanzada said, “Other important medicines are anti-depressants. These are rarely available. But if they are found, then they are too expensive to purchase.”
He further said, “We use lithium carbonate to treat suicidal thoughts, and this can’t even be found in the market.”
Dr Khanzada confirmed that these medicines are smuggled to other countries, where they can be sold at higher prices. “Just like there are other mafias, we also have a mafia for medicines.”
Meanwhile, Karachi Medicine Market Association President Amir Malik termed the shortage of medicines and their higher prices as a result of the “dollar”.
“Raw materials used to make the medicines has become costly,” he said. “The cost of medicines has risen by at least 25-30 percent.”
Malik maintained that the shopkeeper who used to buy 100 boxes of medicines now only purchases 50. “This is also a reason for shortage in the market.”
Apart from psychiatric disorder medicines, pharmaceutical companies have not been providing fever and cough medicines too since a while.