Medicine crisis likely to worsen in Pakistan as Panadol production stopped

The picture shows Panadol tablets.  — AFP/File
The picture shows Panadol tablets. — AFP/File
  • The pharmaceutical company declares a case of force majeure.
  • Citing heavy financial losses as a reason for stopping production.
  • Several companies have stopped manufacturing due to rising production costs.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is likely to see a worsening medical crisis after GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare Pakistan announced on Friday it would halt production of all Panadol products, saying the company was facing heavy financial losses.

The pharmaceutical company declared force majeure and stopped production of Panadol tablets, Panadol Extra tablets and the Children’s Panadol Liquid range, citing losses in production of the Panadol range due to an increase in the price of paracetamol raw ingredients.

“We are incurring heavy financial losses on the production of the entire Panadol line due to an increase in the price of their raw materials and in the absence of proper approval by the federal government on the recommendation of the Drug Pricing Committee of the Drugs Regulatory Committee of Pakistan.

“Due to these challenges, manufacturing the Panadol range on negative margins is not sustainable and despite the company’s exhaustive efforts to mitigate the issue through dialogue, the situation is now beyond our control, forcing us to declare force majeure,” GSK Consumer Healthcare Pakistan CEO Farhan Haroon said in a letter to Prime Minister Syed Tauqir Shah’s Principal Secretary.

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Officials from the Medicines Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) and the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Co-ordination (NHS, R&C) declined to comment on the new development, arguing that they do not had received no letter or notification from the pharmaceutical company.

Pakistan is currently facing a severe crisis as many pharmaceutical companies are failing to manufacture several essential drugs including various brands of oral and injectable paracetamol, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants due to rising production costs. But the government is unwilling to increase the prices drugs at the request of the pharmaceutical industry.

According to the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), the cost of drugs has increased by 38% due to an increase in the cost of raw materials, devaluation of the rupee, increase in the cost of utilities and transportation costs and demands an immediate reduction of 40% across the board in drug prices.

In his letter to the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the CEO of the company said that he has repeatedly drawn the attention of various government stakeholders to the critical issue of the extraordinary and rapid increase in prices of paracetamol (raw material). in Pakistan, and their appeals to the federal government. to grant approvals for adjustments to the selling price(s) of the legendary Panadol product range, all containing paracetamol.

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“We obtained the DPC approval of the DRAP, held on January 12, 2022, which was recommended by the DPC for cabinet approval. But, according to the media, the same was rejected after a prolonged delay by the latter without any indication of reason(s) given to the company,” Haroon said.

Furthermore, he argued, although the company received a routine consumer price inflation (CPI) adjustment for the year 2022 from the DRAP on August 25, 2022, this is not proportional. to the debilitating increase in the prices of the raw material of paracetamol.

Over the past 12 months, the company has produced nearly 5,400 million tablets of Panadol 500mg and Panadol Extra to serve its customers, consumers and patients in need. The company has played an essential, consumer/patient-focused and responsible role during the COVID-19 pandemic, dengue fever crisis and floods across Pakistan, ensuring continuous supply of the Panadol range.

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“We have done all this despite heavy financial losses on the production of the said Panadol range due to an increase in the price of paracetamol raw materials and in the absence of proper approval by the federal government of the recommendation of the DPC/DRAP,” he said. added.

“Despite the company’s exhaustive efforts to mitigate this issue through dialogue, the situation is now beyond our control,” Haroon said, adding that under these circumstances, they are forced to declare a force majeure event regarding production. of all Panadol products.

“But we remain keen to meet with you to resolve the situation so that we can continue to provide daily healthcare to Pakistanis. We urge the federal government to take urgent action to rationalize the prices of the impacted Panadol range based on the increase in the price of the impacted raw material and as recommended by the DRAP’s DPC, in order to allow the company to continue to support the government to ensure continued supply to all patients and consumers in need,” he said.

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