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Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday ordered Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to freeze the prices of medicine across the country.

He expressed concerns over the matters related to the fixation of drugs prices, condemning the authority for not acting properly. Supreme Court also directed to appoint a permanent head of the DRAP and ordered the regulatory authority to resolve the matter regarding prices of medicines in ten weeks.

A three-member bench headed by the chief justice heard suo motu notice in Supreme Court Lahore registry against an increase in medicine prices.

During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti said pharmaceutical companies used to increase medicine prices on their own before 2013 but it’s not the situation anymore.

To this, the chief justice remarked that the court could not intervene in matters pertaining to policy, but added they should regulate that prices according to the international standards and emphasized that why medicines are cheaper in the neighbouring country India.

Chief Justice also inquired about the non-existence of proper bar codes on the medicines. To which, DRAP replied that according to the policy of 2015, 2,000 cases were wrapped up while a two-year period was granted to print bar-code on medicines but they never implemented it due to non-cooperation of the pharmaceuticals companies.

Justice Ahsan told the Pharmaceuticals companies’ representatives they should not be worried if they had not done anything wrong. “Culprits would be taken to task and heroes would be lauded,” the judge added.

The CJP accepted DRAP’s requested and allowed it to extend timeframe by one year for enforcement of quick response (QR) bar-code on the packaging of the medicines.

The authority has failed to function conventionally due to poor management, recently they recalled the cancer causing heart medicines, Chinese company’s Valsartan, a month after the news broke internationally.

The chief justice also questioned the additional attorney general over the prevalence of Hepatitis C in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), The bench ordered work to be started for treatment of kidney disease and those pertaining to Hepatitis C.

SC directed DRAP and all the pharmaceutical companies to sit together and prepare a road-map for the reduction in the prices of medicine.

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