Pakistan Faces Acute Shortage of Life-Saving Drugs


by Hamna Bano

10 Best Activities



The pricing policy of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan and the depreciating rupee has caused an extreme shortage of life-saving medicines in Pakistan. This was revealed by a pharmacist to an international news channel. These medicines also included imported ones.


The importer of biological products and pharmacist by profession Abdul Mannan said, “Due to the extreme depreciation of Pakistani currency against the dollar and controversial drug pricing policy of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), their prices have risen manifold and it has become economically unviable for importers to bring them on the existing prices given by the DRAP.” 

Both the public and private healthcare sectors are facing a shortage of imported cancer therapies, anesthesia gasses, fertility drugs, and cancer therapies. Vendors stopped the supply of these medicines due to dollar rupee disparity.  

Officials said that “the most important drug which is not being supplied to health facilities is Heparin, which is a blood-thinning agent used after some cardiovascular procedures. Similarly, some important anesthetic gasses like isoflurane, sevoflurane as well as monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of different types of cancers as well as fertility products like human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) and human menopausal gonadotropin (HMG) are also not being provided to health facilities due to dollar-rupee disparity and pricing policy of the DRAP.”

Although a lot of oral medicines including tablets, injections, and syrups are produced locally in Pakistan, the imports of biological products including hormones, fertility medicines, therapies, and other products are done from India, Russia, China, and European countries as well as Turkey and the United States. 

Pushing the government to immediately reverse the Drug pricing policy 2018 of DRAP, which allows an increase in prices under the hardship category, Abdul Mannan mentioned that DRAP allowed the import of medicines when the dollar was available at Rs. 190. Now it has gone up to Rs. 285 while in the local market, the dollar is being traded at Rs. 300. The only problem here that lies is, DRAP has imposed a three-year restriction to apply under the hardship category. This means that if a drug comes under the hardship category due to increased import price, the importer can apply only once in three years for price adjustment.