The authorities have been failed to effectively check artificial scarcities aimed at pushing up prices. As in the past, the latest hike has also been accompanied by similar unethical practices. The need is imperative to protect the people’s interests against frequent price hikes as a corollary to the policy of partial deregulation of drug prices introduced in 1993. There have been reports suggestions that drug manufactures have been trying to get many essential drugs off the price regulations list.
Even otherwise there has been a reported increase of 80 points in the drug price index over the last three years as compared to the consumer price index which has registered a rise of 36 points during the same period. Recent studies have also revealed that multinational companies have been reaping more profits by selling fever medicines than before at higher prices of Particular concern is the disclosure that price of life saving medicines have registered a 112 percent since 1993.
Evidently, in such an environment, leaving essential medicines to market forces alone to determine prices would be fraught with gave risks to public health in a country with inadequate health services and limited purchasing power of the people. At the heart of the problem is the flamed policy of allowing multinationals to buy raw materials from their principals in other countries, at a high premium and sell the finished products locally at inflated rates. It is also said that multinational pharmaceutical companies operating in both India and Pakistan are selling their products at prices up eight times, cheaper in neighboring India as compared to Pakistan.
There are complex issues and yet it should be possible to devise a price control mechanism whereby such wide description can be avoided and prices can be maintained at a reasonable level. Steps must also be taken to keep cost-inflating factors relevant to pharmaceutical production under proper check and scrutiny. Sugar is at present selling at over Rs.60 per Kg and the farmer compares the prices of crop with the prevailing sugar price and expects a corresponding reward for his investment and labour. Finding no way out of the stalemate.
Written By: Aafia Hira