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Drap to take up complaint against firm for selling cancer drug at exorbitant prices

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Drap to take up complaint against firm for selling cancer drug at exorbitant prices
Drap to take up complaint against firm for selling cancer drug at exorbitant prices

ISLAMABAD: The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has decided to investigate a complaint by the federal drug inspector (FDI) who said medicines made for treating brain tumour is sold for almost ten times what it costs in India.

Drap’s Costing and Pricing Department has written a letter to FDI Dr Obaid Ali which says it has been decided that the matter will be placed before the Drug Pricing Committee (DPC) in its forthcoming meeting.

The FDI has been directed to forward the complaint along with any evidence to the Costing and Pricing Department so the matter can be decided according to the law.

The FDI has also been directed to send similar complaints in the future directly to the department so they can be placed before the DPC.

Drug inspector tells Drap five capsules of drug for treating brain tumour are sold for Rs31,000, which is 10 times what it costs in India

The letter written by FDI Dr Obaid Ali-which is available with Dawn and copies of which were sent to the pharmaceutical company in question, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) and Drap- says the anti-cancer drug manufactured in India is also registered in Pakistan.

“During inquiry by FDI it was revealed that the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) of the product being sold in Pakistan is Rs 31,000 for five capsules of 100mg medicine. Whereas some patients manage to get the smuggled medicine of the same manufacturer in Pakistani Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000 from India as in India prices are very low compared to Pakistan,” letter stated.

The letter dated Nov 13 goes on to say that the coordination of different offices is required to understand the magnitude of the potential effect and cause of such a management between patient and supplier.

A Drap official said though the authority claims medicine prices are fixed after comparing them with the prices in India and Bangladesh, drugs are being sold at much higher prices in Pakistan than what they are sold for in India and Bangladesh.

“It is Drap’s responsibility to ensure patients get medicines at cheaper rates as the majority of families cannot afford to buy medicines,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Ali said he has also sent a reply to Drap, also available with Dawn, in which he has said that medicines from the same Indian company are being sold at many times the price at which they are sold in India.

“I had informed Drap in 2015 that a medicine being imported for Rs76,687 was being sold for Rs232,800. In 2016, I wrote a letter to Drap saying a number of companies have been selling medicines at exorbitant prices but no notice was taken. I appreciate that Drap has decided to investigate this,” he said.

He said it is unfortunate that medicines manufactured at the cost of Rs25 are sold for Rs500 in Pakistan, and that hospitals bargain with pharmaceutical companies and get medicines for five to eight times less than the market price and sell them on to patients at the market price.

He suggested scientists should be included in the Drap team which fixes drug prices in order to calculate the actual cost of drugs.

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