ISLAMABAD: An association of Pakistani-American physicians have written a letter to PM Imran Khan to express their concerns over the “gouging and inflated prices” for the coronavirus vaccines, voicing fear it would render them too expensive for the poor in the country.
The letter begins by bringing to the prime minister’s attention of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan’s (DRAP) measure to allow a 40% mark-up for importers of the vaccines plus an additional 15 percent mark-up for retailers.
“As per this formula, the price for two doses of the Sputnik-V vaccine has been fixed at Rs. 8,449 and that for a single dose of the Cansino Biologics vaccine at Rs. 4,225,” reads the letter.
The association said this 15 percent mark-up over a life-saving drug in a poor country like Pakistan “cannot be justified by any means”.
“APPNA is concerned that in a country where 30-40% people live below the poverty line, this price gouging and inflated prices for the COVID-19 vaccines will make these beyond the reach of a very large proportion of the populace,” stated the letter.
It said the vaccine was the only way of controlling the coronavirus pandemic, adding that if hundreds of millions in the country will be unable to afford it, the results would be ‘catastrophic’.
“A human tragedy must not be allowed to be used for profiteering.APPNA appeals to you to urgently review the situation yourself,” said the association.
Saying the government was in the best position to negotiate the prices of coronavirus vaccines, the APPNA urged the government to import them itself.
“Ideally the government should make the vaccine available to all the people free of cost. If the financial situation of the country however precludes that, then it should be made available to the population at no more than cost,” the APPNA said in the letter.
The letter said provincial and federal governments should work together to provide subsidies to the poor, and aid people in the delivery and administration of the coronavirus vaccine.
“APPNA also takes the opportunity to appeal to you to make live telecast of the meetings of regulatory authorities such as DRAP mandatory for the sake of transparency,” said the APPNA.
The APPNA concluded the letter by saying it is ready to help Pakistan in its current time of crisis in any way it can. “We remain at your call,” it said in conclusion.