Islamabad: The pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan is struggling to replenish its supplies amid a shortage of essential life-saving drugs and other surgical instruments as the country is facing an economic crisis, The Express Tribune reported.

The economic crisis faced by Pakistan is caused by a number of factors, including the refusal of commercial banks to issue new Letters of Credit (LCs) on account of a shortage of US dollars that have impacted drug companies, as per The Express Tribune report.

Pharmaceutical companies have been facing difficulty to maintain stocks of essential life-saving drugs. As experts have warned of the economy "sinking into near-paralysis", top pharmaceutical firms are facing difficulty to get raw materials to manufacture drugs while being forced to reduce production as patients suffer in hospitals, The News International reported citing sources.

The crisis comes as Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves touched an eight-year low of USD 4.3 billion and talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) hang in balance.

Due to the ongoing economic crisis, Pakistan is unable to buy basic imports, including medicine and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), several vaccines and biological products for the treatment of cancer and other diseases, as per the news report.

As per the news report, the operation theatres are left with less than a two-week stock of anaesthetics which is important for highly sensitive surgeries. Pharmaceutical companies are left with raw materials that will last for only four to five weeks, The Express Tribune reported.

Stakeholders of medical companies have called on Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to address their concerns and call on the state bank as well as commercial banks to resolve their issues.

Medical companies have warned that the crisis could create further severity as the raw materials needed for creating medicines have been held up at the Karachi port due to a shortage of dollars. Shipping containers with essential food items are stuck at the port in Karachi for weeks.

Meanwhile, interest expenses in Pakistan have increased to Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 2.57 trillion in the first half of this fiscal year, amounting to 65 per cent of the annual debt servicing budget, and is forcing the Pakistan government to reduce its other expenses, except those on defence, The Express Tribune reported. The development comes amid the government's reluctance to opt for debt restructuring.

With a net income of PKR 2.5 trillion, Pakistan's total spending on debt servicing and defence reached over PKR 3.2 trillion more than the government's net income, which indicates that Pakistan will remain debt trapped as the tax collection has increased, however, the expenses have not been reduced, as per the news report.

In comparison to a massive expenditure of PKR 3.2 trillion on debt servicing and defence, only PKR 147 billion was spent on development, the report said, adding that the expenditure on development is 49 per cent less in comparison to the previous fiscal year.