Most of the customers are being affected by the shortage of essential medicines. These medicines include Panadol, Insulin, Brufen, Disprin, Calpol, Tegral, Nimesulide, Hepamerz, Buscopan and Rivotril etc.
Islamabad: The ongoing economic crisis in Pakistan has badly affected the healthcare system. Patients here are struggling for essential medicines. The lack of foreign exchange reserves in the country has affected Pakistan’s ability to import essential drugs or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) used in domestic production. As a result, local drug manufacturers were forced to reduce their production. Due to lack of medicines and medical equipment, doctors are forced not to perform surgeries.
Drug makers upset
According to Pakistan media reports, operation theaters are left with less than a two-week stock of anesthetics needed for sensitive surgeries, including heart, cancer and kidney. This situation may also result in loss of jobs in the hospitals of Pakistan, which may further increase the misery of the people. Drug manufacturers have blamed the financial system for the crisis in the healthcare system, claiming that commercial banks are not issuing fresh letters of credit (LCs) for their imports.
Costs keep rising
Pakistan drug manufacturing is highly dependent on imports, with about 95 percent of drugs requiring raw materials from other countries, including India and China. For most of the drug manufacturers, the imported material has been stopped at Karachi port due to lack of dollars in the banking system. The drug manufacturing industry has said that the cost of manufacturing the drug is continuously rising due to rising fuel cost and transportation charges and sharp devaluation of the Pakistani rupee.
Current situation can turn into disaster
Recently, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) sought the government’s intervention to prevent the situation from turning into a disaster. However, instead of taking immediate steps, the officials are still trying to assess the quantum of shortfall.
Drug dealers in Pakistan’s Punjab have said that government survey teams visited the area to find out the shortage of vital medicines. Retailers revealed that the shortage of some common but important medicines is affecting most of the customers. These medicines include Panadol, Insulin, Brufen, Disprin, Calpol, Tegral, Nimesulide, Hepamerz, Buscopan and Rivotril etc.
According to a report, in early January, Syed Farooq Bukhari, central chairman of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), had said that 20-25 per cent of pharmaceutical production is currently sluggish. He further said, “If the current policies (import ban) continue for the next four to five weeks, the country will face the worst drug crisis.”
Earlier this month, the Pakistan government and IMF staff completed the ninth review of the US$6.5 billion bailout package without staff-level agreement. The Pakistani government hoped that they would be able to convince the IMF to gradually implement the conditions. However, Islamabad’s hopes were dashed during the 10-day visit of the IMF mission to Pakistan.