KARACHI: Pakistan’s finance ministry said on Wednesday production of paracetamol products had resumed in the country after an agreement on their reduced prices was reached between the government and pharmaceutical industry.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a multinational company that manufactures most of Pakistan’s paracetamol products, announced to suspend their production earlier this month while blaming its decision on the government’s failure to rationalize the rates.
Health experts in Pakistan were alarmed by the shortage of paracetamol products in the market amid growing cases of dengue, malaria and other water-borne diseases in the wake of the recent floods that displaced over 33 million people.
“Federal Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar in a meeting with heads of main pharmaceutical companies discussed the retail price of paracetamol products,” the ministry announced on Twitter. “The pharma industry agreed upon the reduced prices of paracetamol 500mg tablet at Rs. 2.35, paracetamol extra 500 mg at Rs. 2.75 and Syrup at Rs. 117.6, which is almost half of the price increase demanded by them. Production of paracetamol products has … started.”
Chairman Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association Qazi Mansoor Dilawar said he welcomed the “timely decision,” though the revised rates still did not fully cover the production cost.
“We welcome the government’s decision, though it has agreed to increase half of what was demanded,” he told Arab News. “Our actual cost is still Rs2.50, but given a dengue and malaria outbreak in the country, the manufacturers agreed.”
Dilawar added the government had promised to increase the prices once the economic situation of the country got better.
He confirmed that GSK had resumed its production.
“The company is producing up to 80 percent of paracetamol and its suspension can severely affect healthcare in Pakistan,” he continued.
The GSK chief executive, Farhan Muhammad Haroon, noted in a recent letter written to the principal secretary to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that “manufacturing of the Panadol range on negative margins” was unsustainable.
He said the drug manufacturer was declaring force majeure regarding the production of Panadol tablet and liquid range.