Federal cabinet approves 15% cut in medicine prices

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday gave the nod of approval to a 15% cut in the prices of 89 essential and life-saving medicines with immediate effect – offering some relief to the people reeling under the burden of the price hike of drugs approved by the government earlier this year, ET reported.

In addition, the cabinet also unanimously decided not to remove the name of PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz from the no-fly list, endorsing the recommendations of a subcommittee of the interior ministry which was directed by the Lahore High Court to decide the matter.

“Many of these medicines [whose prices are being decreased] are used in treating heart diseases and blood pressure,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Services Dr Zafar Mirza told the media after the cabinet meeting.

“They were on the list of essential medicines whose prices had to be decreased by 10% annually for three years under the Medicine Pricing Policy 2018,” he added. “Keeping all the factors in view, we have obtained the government’s approval to cut the prices of essential medicines by 15%.”

The PM’s aide explained that the government had to increase the prices of medicines by 15% earlier this year because of the devaluation of the rupee.

“The prime minister has instructed that the Medicine Pricing Policy be reviewed within two months to facilitate the people,” he said. “The ministry is in the last stages of formulating a national medicine policy for the pharmaceutical sector, which will be announced in the coming weeks.”

In April this year, the prices of medicines were increased by up to 400%. This prompted the prime minister to order the reduction of the prices within 72 hours. Aamer Mehmood Kiani, the then national health services minister, was sacked and Dr Mirza was appointed PM’s special assistant on health.

In May, Dr Mirza announced that after meetings with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, it had been decided that the increase in the prices of medicines would not exceed 75%.

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