The pharmaceutical industry and the Health Ministry in Pakistan are in a price dispute that has resulted in an acute shortage of critical medicines, forcing patients to rely on smuggled and potentially counterfeit drugs at increased costs. The pharmaceutical industry is demanding a 38% increase due to rising production costs caused by inflation and the devaluation of the local currency.
The government has rejected the demand, causing pharmaceutical companies to either stop or go into limited-scale production of scores of essential and non-essential medicines. The importers have stopped or drastically reduced the imports of about 100 crucial medicines. If the government does not meet the manufacturers’ demand, pharmaceutical companies would be compelled to shut down their units, risking more than 1 million jobs. The government has set up a committee led by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to thrash out the issue.