Another pointer to incumbents’ apathy to public health
IN AN echo of public sentiment, the Awami League promised, in its election manifesto, an ‘appropriate pharmaceutical policy’. In line with the promise, the AL-led government formed a committee to suggest a drug policy, including the lists of essential and commonly used drugs, two years ago, and the committee submitted its report to the health ministry about 10 months ago. Regrettably, however, as mentioned in a New Age report on Tuesday, almost at the end of its tenure, the government is yet to finalise the drug policy, a delay that has already given rise to suspicions about its sincerity to complete the task.
It is worth noting that, in 1994, the then government issued a notification that the drug administration, the government regulatory body in the sector, would fix the prices of only the drugs commonly used. The decision was in violation of the section 11 of the Drug Control Ordinance 1982 that mandates the government to ‘fix the maximum price at which any medicine may be sold’ and ‘any pharmaceutical raw material may be imported or sold’. As a result, the drug administration can control the prices of only 117 out of more than 1300 generic drugs manufactured in the country now.
In such a situation, drug companies got a free hand over fixing the prices of 91 per cent drugs available in the country. For instance, the pharmaceutical companies have increased the prices of even different essential drugs on three occasions just in 2013 causing huge plight to people at large already in dire state due to unabated surge in the overall living cost for various reasons since the government assumed office, while the drug administration looked on. What’s worse, most of the drug companies reportedly seek to set even some commonly used drugs’ prices at their will by preparing a combination drug with an active ingredient of other drugs that fall outside the jurisdiction of the drug administration in terms of fixing their prices.
Reports are there that the draft drug policy has recommended a total of 304-308 drugs to be enlisted as essential drugs while the existing list includes only 208 essential drugs in defiance of the World Health Organisation that thinks the number of such drugs should be 348. Now, if the government approves the essential drug list as it is suggested by the committee, there will necessarily be a public demand soon that the government constitutionally-bound to protect public interest in all sectors control their prices, something that, once in place, will definitely hold back the drug companies ravenous for quick bucks. Overall, the incumbents seem to have given in to pressure from the drug companies that are desperate to retain their control over the drug market. The government is urged to immediately end dithering on finalising the proposed drug policy.
comments powered by Disqus
THE photograph published on the front page of New Age on Tuesday... Full story
The public university policies, especially the ones relating to its willingness to establish partisan control over the campuses at any cost like appointing the ruling party linked people in the key positions of the institutions using the loopholes in their rules and regulations, pursued till date by the incumbent government like its... Full story