In continuing stand-off with government, Pakistani pharma union calls for price hike of 262 drugs

Pharmacy employees wearing facemasks as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus attend to customers in Islamabad on March 23, 2020. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 11 December 2023
Follow

In continuing stand-off with government, Pakistani pharma union calls for price hike of 262 drugs

  • Pakistan in April approved rise of up to 20 percent in retail prices of general medicines and 14 percent for essential ones
  • Associations have been demanding an across-the-board 39 percent rise, warning that the industry could otherwise collapse

KARACHI: The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) on Monday called on the federal government to allow an increase in the prices of 262 medicines, the latest in a stand-off with an industry struggling to stem losses from soaring inflation and a weakened currency.

Since June, local and multinational companies have been lobbying the government to raise prices through industry lobby groups like the Pharma Bureau and the PPMA.

Pakistan last approved a rise of up to 20 percent in retail prices of general medicines and 14 percent for essential ones in April, prompting immediate criticism from drug manufacturers who said the increases were too small. Associations have been demanding an across-the-board 39 percent rise, warning that the industry could otherwise collapse.

In its statement on Monday, PPMA said a delay in the price hike would mean “more essential drugs wouldn’t be available in the local market.”

“Revision in prices of these medicines had become highly essential as the last time such an increase had been allowed by the government the value of the dollar was less than Rs 200,” PPMA Central Chairman Mian Khalid Misbah-ur-Rehman was quoted in the statement as saying.

On Monday, the dollar was worth Rs281.75 for buying and Rs284.75 for selling, according to the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan.

 “In addition to the phenomenal increase in the dollar exchange rate, the production cost of medicines has increased manifold due to record inflation,” Rehman said.

Pakistan’s weekly inflation rate spiked to the highest level in six months in the week ending on December 7, driven by surging food and fuel prices, as per data released by the government.

Rehman warned that more multinational drug producers would be forced to wind up their businesses if the government kept delaying the decision to allow an increase in the prices of medicines.

“The number of multinational pharmaceutical companies in Pakistan has already significantly decreased over the past many years as any further reduction in their number will go against the current efforts of the government to attract foreign investment to Pakistan,” the PPMA chairman said.

Data from the statistics bureau released in March showed the pharma industry had cut overall output by 55 percent since June 2022.

Over 100 essential drugs were already unavailable in the market, Rehman added:

“The patients in such a scenario rely on spurious and smuggled drugs when the locally produced medicines aren’t available in the market.”

PPMA said the sustainability of the Pakistani pharmaceutical industry, which met up to 95 percent demand for medicines in the country, would be “seriously threatened” if the government didn’t review its drug pricing system.

“We have been constantly calling upon the government to pay heed to the ground realities affecting the drug producers in the country as the long-pending hardship cases of medicines should be expeditiously disposed of as per the law,” the PPMA chairman said.

Pakistan’s annual pharmaceutical exports stand at around$300 million, which Rehman said could be increased to $5 billion if the government “consistently implements favorable policies for the drug industry allowing it to adopt state-of-the-art production technologies.”


Fast bowler Haris Rauf ruled out of PSL after dislocating shoulder

Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Fast bowler Haris Rauf ruled out of PSL after dislocating shoulder

  • Haris Rauf fell awkwardly on his shoulder during Karachi-Lahore match on Saturday
  • Doctors have advised Rauf to rest for 4-6 weeks to recover from injury, says Lahore Qalandars 

LAHORE: Fast bowler Haris Rauf has been ruled out of the remainder of the Pakistan Super League after dislocating his shoulder during two-time defending champion Lahore Qalandars’ two-wicket loss against Karachi Kings on Saturday.

The franchise said in a statement on Sunday that doctors have advised Rauf to rest for 4-6 weeks to recover from the injury after undergoing scans.

Rauf fell awkwardly on his shoulder in the last over while holding onto a stunning catch of Hasan Ali during Karachi’s thrilling run-chase as Lahore lost its fourth successive game in Pakistan’s premier domestic Twenty20 event.

Rauf struggled in the first three games but bounced back against Karachi with economical figures of 1-22 off his four overs.

“We are deeply saddened by Haris Rauf’s injury,” Lahore captain Shaheen Shah Afridi said. “It was painful to see him missing out … and his absence will be felt.”

Rauf’s injury is the second major bowling setback for Lahore after its premier spinner Rashid Khan of Afghanistan was ruled out before the tournament due to a back injury.


Pakistan approves mergers of leading Saudi company with stakes in its steel sector

Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Pakistan approves mergers of leading Saudi company with stakes in its steel sector

  • M/s Saudi Iron and Steel Company (Hadeed) deals in spot sales in Pakistan’s steel market, exports to South Asian country
  • Three mergers are not anticipated to raise competition concerns in the relevant market, says competition commission

ISLAMABAD: The Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) this week approved three mergers concerning a leading Saudi company that has a significant presence in Pakistan’s steel market, the regulatory body said. 

Based in the kingdom, M/s/ Saudi Iron and Steel Company (Hadeed) produces a range of steel products and deals in spot sales in Pakistan’s steel market. Hadeed also exports to the South Asian country through international traders.

The CCP said in its press release on Saturday that the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, sent a pre-merger application to CCP to acquire 100 percent shareholding of Hadeed from M/s. Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (“SABIC”).

“PIF has entered into a share purchase agreement with SABIC, under which SABIC agrees to sell its entire share capital of Hadeed to PIF,” the CCP said. 

The second merger involved Hadeed acquiring 100 percent shareholding of Al Rajhi Steel Industries Company from M/s. Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi & Sons Investment. 

Al Rajhi Steel, established in 1978, is a subsidiary of Al Rajhi Invest and is known for its steel manufacturing capabilities in Saudi Arabia. This involved a share exchange agreement between Hadeed and Al Rajhi Invest.

In the third stage, the CCP said PIF intends to dispose off its 44.5 percent shareholding in Hadeed to M/s. Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi & Sons Investment, the CCP. It added that the move was intended to share control over Hadeed and Al Rajhi Steel to improve their respective production capabilities and increase their operational efficiency.

“These transactions, as per the information available, are not anticipated to raise any competition concerns in the relevant market,” the CCP said. 

It said Pakistan’s steel sector is “one of the most important industries in the country” and with investments, can raise the country’s GDP to bring benefits to both the economy and investors.


Pakistan inaugurates ‘pivotal’ polio campaign to immunize over 45.8 million children

Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Pakistan inaugurates ‘pivotal’ polio campaign to immunize over 45.8 million children

  • Polio volunteers to immunize children under five years old from Feb. 26 to March 3, says national health ministry 
  • Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a Western ploy to sterilize Pakistan’s population

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal health secretary Iftikhar Shallwani on Sunday inaugurated a nationwide campaign against polio that aims to immunize over 45.8 million children against the disease, the national health ministry said. 

Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio is endemic. The disease affects the nervous system of children and ultimately leads to paralysis.

The South Asian country’s efforts to contain polio have often been met with opposition, especially in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where militants have carried out attacks against vaccinators and the security teams guarding them. 

Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a plot by Western outsiders to sterilize Pakistan’s population. 

Shallwani inaugurated the campaign, which is set to launch nationwide on Monday, by administering polio drops to children. 

“This pivotal campaign, scheduled from Feb 26 to Mar 3, aims to immunize over 45.8 million children under the age of 5 across the country,” the Ministry of National Health Services wrote on X platform. 

Shallwani said polio is a “terrible” disease that can cause paralysis in children.

“Unfortunately, it continues to be a threat to our children because some people refuse to vaccinate children based on misconceptions and false information about the vaccine,” he said. 

He said volunteers will deliver the vaccine to people’s doorsteps from next week, requesting parents to cooperate with them. 

“I implore you to recognize the threat posed by the poliovirus to your children and ensure that you open your doors to facilitate their vaccination,” the health official said. 

Pakistani masses’ doubts regarding polio campaigns were exacerbated in 2011 when the US Central Intelligence Agency set up a fake hepatitis vaccination program to gather intelligence on former Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. 


Undefeated Quetta lock horns with Multan Sultans in PSL 9 clash

Updated 25 February 2024
Follow

Undefeated Quetta lock horns with Multan Sultans in PSL 9 clash

  • Multan Sultans lost their first match of the tournament to Peshawar Zalmi this week 
  • Despite the loss, the Sultans top the Pakistan Super League points table due to strong run rate

ISLAMABAD: The undefeated Quetta Gladiators will be put to the test today, Sunday, when they face table-toppers Multan Sultans in match number 11 of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 set to take place in Multan. 

The Sultans sit pretty at the top of the table with six points from four matches. However, they lost to former champions Peshawar Zalmi on Friday by five wickets at their home ground in Multan. 

Under new skipper Rilee Rossouw, however, the Gladiators have won all three matches of theirs. 

“I am aware of the conditions on Multan hence I don’t encounter any difficulties playing there,” Rossouw said. “Every match is a new contest, we will implement our plan to win it.”

The Gladiators have the same number of points as the Gladiators, six, from three matches. However, they are placed at number two on the table due to a net run rate of +0.686. The Sultans have a run rate of +0.812 from their four matches. 

The match between the two sides is expected to begin at 2:00 p.m.

Playing XIs (probable):

Multan Sultans: Mohammad Rizwan (c & wk), Dawid Malan, Reeza Hendricks, Yasir Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, David Willey, Usama Mir, Abbas Afridi, Mohammad Ali, Shahnawaz Dahani

Quetta Gladiators: Saud Shakeel, Jason Roy, Rilee Rossouw (c), Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Khawaja Nafay, Shefane Rutherford, Akeal Hosein, Abrar Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Wasim, Mohammad Hasnain


Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly elects speaker from majority party 

Updated 34 min 32 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly elects speaker from majority party 

  • Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Owais Qadir Shah secures 111 votes to win speaker’s election 
  • Election for the post of Sindh chief minister is scheduled to be held on Monday

KARACHI: Syed Owais Qadir Shah, a member of the Pakistan Peoples Party which won the highest number of seats in the southern Sindh province during this month’s polls, won the election for the provincial assembly’s speaker on Sunday.

Sofia Saeed Shah, a member of the Muttahida Quami Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) who contested against Shah, polled 36 votes, outgoing speaker Agha Siraj Durrani announced during the assembly’s session. 

“So, I declare honorable member Syed Owais Qadir Shah who has secured the highest number of votes to have been elected as a speaker of the provincial assembly of Sindh,” Durrani said to thunderous applause from legislators. 

Shah took oath shortly and chaired the Sindh Assembly’s session, which will also see the election of Shah’s deputy. 

The voting took place a day after the inaugural Sindh Assembly session when newly elected members of the southern province were sworn in.

Saturday’s oath-taking ceremony was marred by protests in Karachi staged by supporters of various political parties who alleged that the Feb. 8 elections were heavily rigged.

Supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Grand Democratic Alliance, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other nationalist parties gathered near the provincial assembly in Karachi’s southern zone to protest alleged manipulation of Feb. 8 election, which was marred by a mobile network outage and delays in release of constituency results.

The PPP has nominated Murad Ali Shah, former Sindh chief minister, for the top provincial office once again. The party has also nominated Anthony Naveed for the post of deputy speaker of the Sindh provincial assembly.

The PPP bagged 84 seats in the southern Pakistani province, followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which secured 28 seats, while 14 seats were won by independent candidates. The JI and the GDA won two seats each.

While the inaugural Sindh Assembly session was in progress, several Pakistani parties on Saturday announced they would observe February 27 as a “Black Day” in response to Sindh police firing tear gas at their supporters protesting suspected rigging in the general elections earlier this month.

In view of the protest calls, the Sindh caretaker government on Friday imposed a ban under Section 144 on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in Karachi’s South zone, where the provincial legislature is located, for a period of 30 days, according to the provincial home department.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the administration to issue orders in public interest and place a ban on any activity for a specific period of time.