ISLAMABAD, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 3rd August, 2016) : The government was working on new legislation to stop practice of over-charging on medicines in the country with imposing heavy fines and imprisonment. Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination chaired by Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi, Secretary Ministry of National Health Services Ayub Sheikh said the proposed fine would range upto Rs 100 million.
Under the proposed legislation, the manufacturer would face fine of Rs 100 million, distributor Rs 10 million and retailer Rs 100,000, besides imprisonment, for overcharging, he added. The meeting was informed that as compared to branded cigarettes, plain standard packaging was less attractive to young people, reduced mistaken beliefs that some brands were safer than others and was likely to reduce smoking uptake among the children and young people.
It was apprised that the plain packaging eliminated the use of colourful logos and branding on tobacco packaging, which served as a key strategy used by the tobacco industry to make products more appealing to current and potential customers, including youth. The meeting was informed that there would be international standard accredited central drug testing laboratory while labs would also start working at provincial level.
These laboratories would be pre-qualified from the World Health Organization in order to improve their credibility while after achieving this international standard, Pakistani pharmaceutical companies would be able to get registration of their medicines from major countries' authorities concerned. Officials of the Ministery of National Health Services said with the achievement of international standard on which the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) was working, Pakistani companies would be able to get membership of Pharmaceutical Inspection Cooperation Scheme (PICS) that would help them in easy registration in every country of the globe.
They said that there was a set procedure to increase prices of medicines like submission of request (certified data) with the government by pharmaceutical companies to raise prices as fixed in accordance with Consumer price Index (CPI). The meeting also discussed the consideration of the Prohibition of Smoking ad Protection of Non-smokers' Health (amendment) Bill 2016 introduced by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed in the Senate. The body received a detailed briefing on the recent increase in prices and shortage of some medicines in the market especially in rural areas of the country. The committee also got briefing on non-functioning of colleges of medical lab technology and health reforms in FATA. Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar Saira Afzal Tarar also attended the meeting.