In Karachi, a recent enforcement operation led by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has uncovered a concerning trend: pharmacies and medical stores are selling medicines at prices five times higher than the approved maximum retail price (MRP). Acting on directives from caretaker Health Minister Dr. Nadeem Jan, Drap has initiated a nationwide crackdown on drug profiteering. Raids are underway at warehouses of wholesalers, distributors, pharmacies, and medical stores.
Drap guidelines permit pharmaceutical companies to sell medicines below the MRP but prohibit exceeding it. Any price increase requires pharmaceutical companies to petition Drap, providing evidence that production costs have risen beyond viability within the existing MRP.
Official data shared by Drap reveals that teams conducted raids on various medical stores in Karachi, including those in DHA, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Johar, and other areas. Examples of exorbitant pricing include Heparin Injection, with an MRP of Rs800, being sold for Rs3,500, and the painkiller Tramal Injection, antibiotic Augmentin DS Suspension, and Hydryllin cough syrup being sold above the MRP.
Ventolin Inhaler and Tegral tablets, recommended for epilepsy and bipolar disorder patients, were also found to be sold at inflated prices. Confiscations were made, and medical stores were sealed during the crackdown.
Similar issues were identified during a crackdown in Lahore, where medical stores were found overcharging for critical drugs related to tuberculosis, epilepsy, cancer, and other life-saving treatments. Tegral tablets, with an MRP of Rs260, were being sold for Rs1,300 to Rs1,400, and Rivotril, used for treating fits, was sold for Rs1,000 despite an MRP of Rs800. Zenax, prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders, had an MRP of Rs278 but was being sold for Rs1,400. Ultravist Injection, priced at Rs3,418, was being sold for Rs6,500.
The official conducting the crackdown reported the confiscation of a consignment of banned syringes in Balochistan. Health Minister Dr. Jan emphasized that legal action is underway against medical store owners selling drugs above government-approved rates. He affirmed Drap’s commitment to maintaining drug quality and ensuring adherence to government-set MRPs.