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Bangladesh - Health - February 3, 2024

Medicine prices hiking further

Six leading cos hiked 50pc price of 234 items

Mahfuja Mukul: Elderly Sharifa Begum of Banshri area of the capital has been suffering from paralysis for more than a century. Sharifa Begum’s son’s wife Jahanara Begum said last Sunday that her mother-in-law was advised by the doctor to take six medicines. Even a year ago, he used to buy these medicines for three and a half thousand taka. At present it costs more than Tk 5,000.
Zubeda Begum, mother of Monir Hossain of Puspakhali village of Dohar Upazila, has been suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure for 10 years. It used to cost around Tk 1500 to buy the medicines he needs every month. Monir Hossain said, currently Tk 2,000 is being spent to buy that medicine.
The prices of various life-saving medicines in the country are increasing by leaps and bounds; In particular, the prices of drugs used in the treatment of non-communicable diseases have increased. Because, patients have to take these medicines regularly. Companies are increasing the price of those drugs in that opportunity. In the last two years, after several increases in the prices of almost all types of drugs, the price hike competition has started again. Among them, in 2022, the prices of various drugs used to control high blood pressure and diabetes, including paracetamol, antibiotics, etc., were increased from 13 to 75 percent.
According to people concerned, the prices of 234 life-saving medicines manufactured by six leading companies in the country were hiked by 10 to 50 percent in May last year. However, no notification has been published by the Directorate of Medicines Administration.
Various drug manufacturing companies claim that because of the dollar crisis, they have to buy dollars at high prices to import raw materials for drugs. As a result, they have to increase the price of medicine. In the last month, the price of some medicines has increased by one and a half times.
Halimuzzaman, Treasurer of Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Industry Association and Managing Director of Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Limited told that the price has increased from Tk 84 to Tk 85 to Tk 124 now. Fuel oil and other production costs have increased. The cost of importing raw materials has increased a lot. Many small companies could not survive in this situation and closed down. He said that they have requested the government to adjust the prices of medicines in the current situation.
Director General of Medicines Administration Directorate Major General Mohammad Yusuf spoke in the same tone. He said that the price of raw materials has increased in the world market; Also, the price of the dollar. Due to this, drug prices have been adjusted in the country. If this is not done many companies will not be able to sustain the business.
However, analysts believe that raising prices under the company’s own management is a form of predatory competition. Government should take effective steps to stop this competition.
Zainul Saeed Rana, member secretary of Health Consumer Rights Forum, expressed concern about increasing the price of medicines. He said that the price of everyday products is increasing and people are already disoriented. On top of this, if the price of life-saving drugs is increased step by step, there will be no limit to the suffering of people.
Several drug dealers in Mitford area of Old Dhaka said that if a company increases the price of medicine first, other companies also increase the price within a few days.
It is known that a new law was passed last year by merging the Drugs Act, 1940 and the Drugs (Control) Ordinance, 1982 for the purpose of production, import, export, sale, distribution, storage and quality control of drugs and cosmetics in the country. But it upheld an order of 1994. According to the order, the price of drugs other than those listed will be controlled by the respective companies. Since then, the competition to increase the price of medicine is going on.
According to the sources of the Department of Drug Administration, more than 1500 essential drugs (life-saving drugs) and more than 27 thousand brands of drugs are produced in the country. Out of these, 219 are in the list of essential medicines, but only 117 medicines are prescribed by the government. All other drugs are priced by the manufacturing companies. But once the government used to set the price of more than 200 medicines.
Palash Kumar Das, sales representative of M/s Alif-Lam Mim Model Pharmacy in Babubazar, said that on January 20, Aristopharma Limited listed 12 medicines to increase the price. It is said to be effective from January 21. In this way, the prices of other companies’ drugs will also increase.
One of the drugs used to control high blood pressure is Aristopharma Ltd.’s Anchor Plus Tablet (Bisoprolol Fumarate and Hydrochlorothiazide). According to market research, the price of each pill of 2.25 mg + 6.25 mg dose was Tk 6 last December, now it is Tk 9. At the end of January, Aristopharma increased the prices of 12 drugs. Another Aristopharma hypertension pill is Duoblock 5/40 mg. Even a month ago, the price of each pill was Tk 19. It has been increased to Tk 21. The price of Nitrocard (2.6 mg) pill used in heart disease and angina pectoris or coronary artery complications has been reduced from Tk 5 to Tk 7. Linaglip M (2.5/850 mg), used in the treatment of type-2 diabetes, costs between Tk 12 to Tk 16, Gluvan Plus (500 mg) Tk 21 to Tk 24, Impaglip (10 mg) Tk 25 to Tk 30, Impaglip (25 mg) from Tk 40 to Tk 50 and Limpa (5/20 mg) from Tk 40 to Tk 50.
MA Hasan, the managing director of Aristopharma Limited, was called to inquire about this, but he cut off the connection. After sending an SMS, there was no reply.
Regarding increasing the price of medicines, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) senior vice president Professor M Shamsul Alam said, “The prices of medicines are usually not determined on the basis of competition. Companies raise prices under their own management, which should not be the case. Companies have taken the opportunity to fix the price through an internal order. It is a form of predatory competition.’

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