–Hospitals and medical stores on verge of running out of lifesaving medicines as pharmaceutical companies’ owners mint money of people’s misery
–DRAP spokesperson assures authority working to keep check on drugs’ rates, prevent any artificial shortage of medicines
LAHORE: Despite the recent surge in medicine prices, lifesaving drugs are not available at a majority of pharmacies across the city whereas several essential medicines have also been declared “out of stock” by medical stores of even the best hospitals.
According to sources, people suffering from cardiac diseases, cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis and goiter to name a few have been left distressed owing to the shortage of lifesaving medicines.
“Pharmaceutical companies have discontinued supplying lifesaving and other essential medicines to pharmacies until a decision regarding drugs prices is made. With there being no supply, the common man is suffering amid the consequent demand-supply gap.”
Sources at a local hospital informed this scribe that Loprin, a blood thinner, was not available in the market for the past one month while medical stores were also running out of Thyroxin that is used for the treatment of thyroid; Angised, Loplat and Ascot for heart problems and other medicines like Panadol.
“Pharmaceutical mafia has purposely stopped the supply of all such necessary medicines,” they claimed and added that the shortage of medicines is a self-created crisis by the pharmaceutical mafia due to which sedatives like Docuum and Zolam are also not available.
“It has irked not only the patients, but also hospitals’ staff.”
They further said that the government had raised the prices of medicines from 10 to 15 per cent but certain local and foreign pharmaceutical companies had raised the same from 33 to 37 per cent. “And this raise was implemented prior to the notification by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).”
“Pharmaceutical mafia has done it with the connivance of influential persons who are not even aware of the damage they are inflicting to the lives of the people,” they said.
Sources further disclosed that medicines made in Pakistan were being sold on higher prices while different political players owned 48 per cent of the pharmaceutical companies in the country. “The crisis is an artificial one that is helping the culprits mint money of the people’s miseries.”
“Around 23 per cent of the companies are owned by private hospitals or senior doctors and their relatives,” they added.
A patient, Touqeer Aslam, while talking to Pakistan Today said, “Being a heart patient, I am facing extreme difficulty in finding blood thinners and angina relief medicine. I can afford to buy them on black market rates from medical stores, but how can the lower middle or poor class pay this much for lifesaving medicines?”
“I have to take Hydrea capsules on a daily basis and it is not available in the market,” Sartaaj Bibi, a cancer patient, told this scribe.
“I have been trying to find it for the past three months but to no avail. It is imported from Turkey and is available for around Rs4,000 to Rs5,000 at a couple of medical stores, which is beyond my reach.”
DRAP spokesperson Akhtar Abbas Khan, while speaking to Pakistan Today said that sometimes there was a shortage of a particular brand’s medicines, but its substitution was available under another company’s name.
“I believe that doctors should recommend alternate medicines having the same formulae to the patients so that in case of any shortage, another is available for the patients.”
“DRAP is consciously working to regulate these mechanisms and is keenly observing the market so that no medicine is sold on a higher price or an artificial shortage is created for drugs, especially the lifesaving ones,” he said and added that the authority had also devised a strategy to keep a check on pharmacies.