The government has no control over the prices of medicines as the power to fix the prices of 1,100 generic medicines out of 1,200 remains in the hands of manufacturing companies and even the government-fixed prices of 117 medicines are also being widely ignored by the retailers.
According to sources, stickers and festoons of selling medicines at the government-fixed rate are being used by the pharmacies all over the country. But it is alleged that there is flaw in the process of price fixation itself.
Investigations revealed that the government has fixed the prices of only 117 generic medicines prescribed for the primary treatment of diseases such as fever, cold, cough, stomach disorder, body pain and gastric problems or medicines like Paracetamol, Antacid, Flagyl, or medicines of ordinary allopathic category. The government has no control over the remaining 1,100 generic medicines. The prices of these medicines are fixed by the pharmaceutical companies according to their sweet will. As a result, the prices of generic medicines vary from company to company. But the salesmen at the pharmacies project the government as responsible for fixation of the prices of all medicines to influence the customers.
Experts said the anarchy over the prices of medicine is longstanding. The prices of 117 medicines fixed by the government in 2008 under the category of essential drugs are also not executed. The customers are hard hit by the situation arising out of the prices of remaining 1,100 medicines. As new tactics, the pharmaceutical companies and the pharmacies are using stickers to sell the name of the government to the consumers. Strangely, the government authorities concerned are not taking any step against this open dissimulation.
Deputy Director of Drug Administration Department Md Ruhul Amin told this correspondent “We have neither served any such notice, nor asked for such a campaign. Besides, we do not fix the prices of all medicines. There is an approval for manufacturing and marketing of a little more than 1,200 allopathic generic medicines. The government has fixed the prices of 117 essential or primary healthcare medicines out of these. The pharmaceutical companies themselves fix the prices of all other medicines and only inform us. So, the claim of selling the medicines at government-fixed price is not correct.”
Drug expert and Prof of Dhaka University Pharmacy Department Dr ABM Faruk said a section of pharmaceutical companies are not only confusing the people over medicine prices, but in fact cheating them. In many cases, the medicine retailers also resort to various types of manipulations.
Former president of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA) and president of National Committee for Health Movement Dr Rashid-e-Mahbub said the ongoing anarchy over the prices of medicines cannot continue if the government takes the necessary steps. Such a situation could have been controlled had there been an effective drug policy. This government is committed to formulating a time-befitting drug policy. Although work on this has been going on for long, that policy is yet to be finalised.