UNAVAILABILITY OF RAW MATERIAL. ISLAMABAD - The federal government on Tuesday admitted in the Senate that production of some specific medicines was facing obstacles due to unavailability of raw material. However, the ruling coalition in the center informed the House that it had not increased prices of medicines after seizing power in April last year. The government further said that the previous PTI regime had increased prices of medicines up to 40 percent during its four-year tenure. “It is true that some pharmaceutical manufacturers are facing problems in production due delay in opening of Letter of credits (LCs) and production of some medicines has been affected,” Minister of State for Law Senator Shahadat Awan told the House while winding up a call attention notice. He said that the present government through a notification issued by the Ministry of National Health Services on 11 January 2023 decreased prices of 20 essential medicines. The minister of state said that under the Drug Pricing Policy 2015-2018, the last government of former prime minister Imran Khan had increased the prices of medicines by 3.9 percent in 2018, 7.3 percent in 2019, 8.9 percent in 2021 and 10 percent each in 2020 and 2022. He added that the PTI government had increased prices of 464 medicines in December 2018, 94 medicines in 2020 and it increased prices of eight medicines in September 2021.
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Earlier, PTI Senator Dr Mehr Taj Roghani through a call attention notice drew the attention of the Minister of National Health Services Abdul Qadir Patel towards non-availability and increase in prices of medicines, medical devices and vaccines in the country. She claimed that the present government has increased prices of medicines by up to 40 percent approximately. “Another curse is that there is no availability of medicines in the country,” she said. The PTI Senator said that the oxygenators, being used in heart surgery, were either not available or being sold at very high prices. She said this was due to the ban on opening of LCs by banks and urged the government to lift the ban immediately. Separately, the house witnessed three walkouts consecutively. First walkout was staged by the opposition after an exchange of hot words between PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz and PPP lawmaker Bahramand Khan Tangi during the question hour. During a discussion on a question about increase in stray dogs in the capital, Bahramand Tangi got annoyed after Aziz chided the treasury by saying that the population of dogs and pigs had increased in posh F-6 and F-7 sectors. After the two exchanged hot words, the opposition staged a walkout. The second was staged by the opposition following the house rejected an adjournment motion, moved by Senator Aziz, on the country’s state of economy through a majority vote. The lawmakers belonging to minorities staged a third walkout, which was joined by some members of treasury and opposition, after PML-N Senator Kamran Michael protested against the attitude of Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Mufti Abdul Shakoor.
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Speaking on a point of public importance, Senator Michael protested on the alleged insult meted out to the representatives of different minorities at a recent seminar on forced conversions, which was organized by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony. He said last week, the ministry invited members of the minorities to the event, where various people delivered speeches pointing out that all religions have flaws and weaknesses except one religion. “It is not the duty of the state to mark a line of discrimination between different religions and insult the representatives of different faiths.” He said that people boycotted the event and representatives of minorities staged walkout