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Shortage of medicines, suicide prevention drugs in Pakistan

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Pakistan’s markets are witnessing a shortage of several essential medicines along with several suicide prevention drugs as a result of the recent hike in their production costs.

The shortage has created fear of an increased suicide rate in the country, Geo News reported citing The News. “None of the brands selling lithium carbonate are available in the market for the last couple of months,” a renowned psychiatrist and former president of the Pakistan Psychiatric Society (PPS) said.

Lithium carbonate is the most effective formula for the treatment of several psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar disorder.

Several physicians and pharmacists have said that other essential medicines such as methylphenidate, which is used for the for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, and clonazepam drops and tablets, which are used for seizure disorder in children and adults, are also not available in the market.

Various psychiatrists have said that the patients were looking for lithium carbonate, however, none of the brands selling it were available in the market, local media reported.

“There are some alternatives to this medicine but they are not effective as lithium carbonate,” professor Dr Iqbal Afridi said.

Senior pharmacist Salwa Ahsan said, “Nine pharmaceutical companies used to produce these drugs but now none of the companies are manufacturing them.

Officials in the local pharmaceutical industry claimed over 60 medicines, including those used for the treatment of tuberculosis, psychiatric illnesses, neurological disorders including epilepsy, anti-depressant medicines, anticoagulants (blood thinners), pain-killers, anti-hypertensive and several other essential medicines are not available in community pharmacies.”

 “Some important medicines for the treatment and management of psychiatric disorders, especially the one for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, are also not available in the market”, a senior community pharmacist Arif Aslam said.

Several medicines that are necessary for the treatment of TB, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, cardiovascular disease and others were not available in the markets as pharmaceutical companies were not manufacturing them, it reported citing The News

“PKR devaluation is the biggest factor behind increasing cost of production of many essential medicines. The cost of raw material is increasing while utilities, transportation and other costs have made it impossible for pharmaceutical companies to manufacture many essential medicines,” Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) chairperson Qazi Mansoor Dilawar said.

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