ISLAMABAD: The private sector has refused to sell the coronavirus vaccine on the government-approved rates, saying the rates are even below the landing cost, and they are unable to sell the vaccine on the government-approved rates.

Industry sources, on condition of anonymity, told Business Recorder the government had almost blocked the option of using imported Russian and Chinese Covid-19 vaccine as the prices are far below the cost.

Officials and industry sources said that as per the government policy and set formula of the pricing of imported drugs retail price was fixed at landing cost plus 40 percent, which included storage, within country transportation, marketing and retailers’ margin.

The sources said the government, the other day, fixed Chinese and Russian Covid-19 vaccine price for the private sector at Rs8,449 for two doses, which was even less than the landing cost.

Sources said that as per the set formula of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) the government should fix the two doses’ price at Rs12,000 as it was costing around $45 while the cabinet fixed it at $35, under such circumstances no importer will import it.

They said American Pfizer-made Covid-19 vaccine and United Kingdoms’ Oxford-AstraZeneca were more expensive, and it would cost around $60, and would be feasible to sell around Rs15,000 for two doses.

Industry sources said, “We kept on requesting the authorities to allow collaboration with global vaccine producers as per Indian lines, but the authorities did not listen. Now India is importing Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca made vaccines, while packing inside the country which has reduced the cost. Had the government allowed local pharmaceutical sector to collaborate with global industry it would save millions of dollars for the country,” they added.

Sputnik-V is one of the four vaccines approved for emergency use in Pakistan, in addition to those by China’s Sinopharm and CanSinoBio and the Oxford-AstraZeneca shot.

The federal cabinet has the other day approved the prices recommended by the DRAP for coronavirus vaccines imported by private companies.

The price for Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccine has been fixed at Rs8,449, for two doses and for China’s CanSino Biologics vaccine at Rs4,225 per jab.

“Had the government considered drug pricing formula, at least 40 million people would have benefited from the imported vaccine, but now even Prime Minister Imran Khan himself is intervening it will become a scandal,” the industry sources said.

Within the next few days, the importers are likely to take the courts on the fixation of below the landing cost price of the vaccines, so far the matter of private vaccination is closed by the government, they said.

Business Recorder repeatedly tried to contact DRAP official spokesman to get his views on the issue but he gave no response.—ABDUL RASHEED AZAD