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Acute Medicines Shortage In The Country As Pharma Industries Facing Problem In Opening LCs

ISLAMABAD: An acute medicine shortage is looming in the country as the pharma industry is facing serious problems in the opening of letters of credit (LCs) owing to dollar shortage in the country, industry officials said.

They said that the commercial banks are only clearing LCs for the clients booked orders earlier for the import of raw materials used for producing various medicines. They said that those applied earlier are getting interbank exchange rates while for new importers banks are offering open market rates which are too high as compared with the interbank exchange rate.

The pharma industry officials and medicine wholesale dealers said that so far there is no serious crisis of medicines availability in the market as stocks are available with wholesalers and retailers but the day factories faced raw material shortage owing to the delay in the arrival of raw material, the crisis will hit the local market.

According to the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), the cost of medicines has increased by 38 percent due to an increase in the cost of raw materials, rupee devaluation, and an increase in the cost of utilities as well as transportation charges. The industry has urged the government to permit them 40 percent increase in the prices of medicines across the board.

The PPMA officials said that despite the clear instructions by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to commercial banks regarding the swift opening of LCs for the import of raw materials being used by the pharma sector, owing to the current financial crunch the industry is facing serious problems.

The PPMA official said that the current situation within the next two months will be overcome in case the government successfully negotiates with global lending institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and others. He added that if the country is getting even 25 percent of the financial assistance pledged at the Geneva conference, it will help stabilize the country as well as the industry.

According to drug dealers and retailers, an acute shortage of some of the medicines especially drugs being used for the treatment of brain-related problems such as fits, injuries, and other problems.

Tablet Tegral 200, Apival 250-500 mg, Rivotal 2 mg tablets as well as drops, ALP tablets 0.25-2 mg, Mepsser tablet 100 mg, tablet Panadol extra, Panadol CF and tablet Arinacare not available in the market. Moreover, eye drops lumigan are also not available in the market and Combigan eye drops being used to treat high pressure inside the eye due to glaucoma are also not available in the market