Govt asked not to increase price of Hepatitis vaccine by 100 per cent

Islamabad: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Tuesday asked the government to reconsider decision to allow 100 per cent increase in the price of an imported Hepatitis vaccine which is already out of the reach of poor.

With around ten per cent population infected, Hepatitis is number one killer disease in Pakistan which mostly infects the poor and middle-class, said Farida Rashid, President IWCCI.

Speaking to business community, she said that majority of the patients cannot afford costly vaccines therefore government should promote indigenous production to reduce healthcare costs drastically.

Farida Rashid said that government in a historic decision reduced prices of 92 pharma products on July 13, 2012 in which the price of imported Hepatitis vaccine was brought down to Rs 6500 from Rs 13000.

The price of vaccine was brought down on papers only as the multinational company kept prices intact using their influence and connections, phenomenon prevalent in Third World countries, she informed.

She said that now a move in underway to reverse the prices to Rs 13000 which will be a major blow to the marginalised people.

Later, she informed, the multinational got the team that played important role in reduction of prices were side-lined employing political connections.

Farida Rashid said that a team led by former director of the Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology Prof Riazuddin who is currently dean Allama Iqbal Medical College has claimed to provide same medicine to masses for Rs 70.

The scientists and senior doctors have also claimed to provide medicine free of cost to Pakistani patients after two years of production as he will meet production costs through exports, she said.

The medicine has been tested by all major laboratories in Pakistan while labs in Germany have found it according to WHO standards.

Initially, concerned ministries lauded the efforts and granted permission to produce 100,000 ampoules of interferon injection for clinical trials but later proved to be biggest hurdle, the president of women’s chamber said.

Despite successful tests on volunteers in Jinnah Hospital, some officials ensured expiry of one lakh vials by blocking any development for two years which disheartened the scientists to stop work.

Some politicians and bureaucrats while serving the interests of a multinational have done a great disservice to nation by discouraging production of local interferon which added to sufferings of poor and deprived country of opportunity to cut import bill and earn foreign exchange, said Farida Rashid.

The import bill for interferon was Rs1.1 billion in 2005, Rs1.4 billion in 2006, Rs1.87 billion in 2007, Rs2.3 billion in 2008 and over Rs3 billion in 2009.