High import duties cause drug shortage in Pakistan
By Hamza Ameer
Islamabad, July 2 (SocialNews.XYZ) Pakistan is grappling with an economic crisis as it struggles to manage depleting foreign exchange reserves, dealing with economic collapse, price hikes and now the re-emergence of the coronavirus.
However, the presence of Covid in the country suggests that now may be the perfect time to bring back import duties on various items, used for treatment and protection against the virus, which is currently declared duty free. by the government. .
Pakistan is currently facing a nationwide shortage of medicines including various antipyretics, antihistamines, antibiotics and respiratory agents.
Additionally, equipment, including nebulizers, face masks and gloves, used by Covid patients, nurses and doctors are also facing massive shortages, leaving the country struggling as the sixth wave of coronavirus continues to spread across the country.
“The shortage of drugs like Panadol is likely to disappear from local markets as the sixth wave matures. A pack of Panadol consisting of 100 tablets is currently being sold on the Karachi black market for 425 PKR. Similarly, Panadol CF, anti-allergy medications are also becoming hard to find,” said Muhammad Atif, president of the Wholesale Chemists Association.
“Apart from this, common cough syrups, drugs used in the treatment of tuberculosis, as well as vitamin C supplements which are prescribed to patients recovering from Covid-19, are also disappearing from the market due to the heavy taxes imposed on them,” he added. .
The same shortage is seen in other major cities across the country.
Arshad Momand, President of the Peshawar Drug Association, said that “the discrepancy between supply and demand for coronavirus-related drugs has triggered a stockpiling situation, where many pharmacies in Peshawar have reportedly started stocking up on drugs and to raise market prices.
“Currently, there are no checks and balances in this regard and profiteers are trying to make the most of this overflowing crisis. There is a widespread shortage of Panadol and face masks in the Peshawar open market, of which much of it is done by local hoarders under the noses of area drug inspectors.
Similar reports are also coming from Lahore and Quetta, implying that the whole country is facing a severe medicine crisis, which will become a major challenge as the spread percentage of coronavirus infection among the locals is increasing every day that pass.
Local manufacturers claim that the lack of raw material supply has affected production, which is why availability of drugs based on demand is not being met.
“There are around 40 medicines which are in short supply not only in Lahore but in various cities of Punjab due to the increase in federal taxes. also discouraged pharmaceutical companies from importing raw materials which are also subject to higher import taxes.The cumulative burden of this has fallen on the people of Punjab, who are struggling to find life-saving medicines amidst the crisis. ‘a sixth wave of coronavirus,’ said a local pharmacist.
The crisis is the result of massive duties of about 80% on essential items like brands, gloves and nebulizers.
“The current government has imposed a breathtaking tax of 80% on masks, 60% on gloves and 30% on nebulizers. The tax on masks and other Covid-19 related items should be abolished immediately, while the ORS should be reissued to make these essential items duty free,” said Muhammad Hanif Soomro, executive member of the Healthcare Association. health of Pakistan.