Islamabad: The Islamabad Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IWCCI) on Tuesday asked the government to implement its landmark decision of reducing the price of an imported Hepatitis injection by 50 per cent to Rs 6500.
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 Federal government in a historic decision reduced prices of 92 pharma products on July 13, 2012 in which the price of imported Hepatitis injection was brought down to Rs 6500 from Rs 13000.
The price of Injection was brought down on papers only as the multinational company kept prices intact using their influence and connections, a typical phenomenon prevalent in Third World countries, she informed.
She said that now a move is underway to reverse the prices to Rs 13000 which will be a major blow to the marginalised segment of society.
She informed the participants that it is unfortunate that the team of officials which was instrumental in reducing the price of multinational company was removed from their posts unceremoniously.
Farida Rashid said that a 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. He has also claimed to provide medicine free of cost to Pakistani patients after two years of its production as he will meet production costs through exporting the product, 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 the bureaucrats proved to be biggest hurdle as they started safeguarding the interests of a multinational company which was going to be the biggest loser, the president of women’s chamber said.
One lakh vials were made which expired after two years despite successful tests on volunteers in Jinnah Hospital discouraging the scientists to stop work.
Some politicians and bureaucrats have done a great disservice to nation by discouraging production of local interferon which added to the sufferings of poor and at the same time deprived country of a great opportunity to cut import bill and save foreign exchange, said Farida Rashid.
She informed the audience that presently interferon has over Rs 2 billion market in Pakistan with 70 per cent captured by a multinational company and that is how typically the multinational companies captures markets in Third World countries.
There would be no Hepatitis related deaths in Pakistan if local production is promoted.