Withdrawal of notification by DRAP: SHC extends stay order

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday extended its stay order suspending an operation of a notification issued by Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan that withdrew the 15 percent increase in drug prices.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Maqbool Baqar also directed the federal law officer to submit comments on a petition of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) and others, and adjourned the hearing of the case till February 21.

The petitioners PPMA and others had moved the court against Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) that issued a notification withdrawing its earlier notification with immediate effect regarding hike in drug prices on the directives of Prime Minister.

They submitted that price of pharmaceutical products manufactured in Pakistan were increased last time in 2001 and since then those were never increased. They said that a meeting of policy board of DRAP was held on 23 October 2013 and was attended by the government officials and representative of PPMA.

They said that in the meeting, it was decided that interim relief may be granted to the industrialists by increasing drug prices and a committee was constituted to deliberate on the matter in detail, analyze market data and disease prevalence in the country.

The petitioner stated that in view of decision of board and further deliberation by the committee, a notification was issued by DRAP, whereby 15 per cent hike was allowed in the price of every medicine, except lifesaving drugs. They said that later a notification was issued on directives of the prime minister withdrawing earlier notification on November 29, 2013.

They said that PM had not authority to pass any such order and added that the notification was issued illegally and without giving opportunity of hearing to them. Therefore, they said that notification was liable to be suspended.

The SHC earlier on December 23, 2013 had suspended the notification withdrawing hike in drug prices.