Monday, 25 September, 2023

Hike in medicine price: People feeling the squeeze

Many patients unable to buy lifesaving drugs

Hike in medicine price: People feeling the squeeze

Popular News

The recent hike in prices of over 50 drugs has dealt a great blow to the common people who are already bearing the brunt of inflationary pressure due to skyrocketing prices of essential commodities.

In the wake of the price spiral of drugs, many patients are skipping the stake of some lifesaving drugs as they are unable to buy those amid rising cost of living.

“The price-fixing committee has fixed the prices of 53 drugs by increasing up to 18 percent considering the dollar crisis and prices of raw materials in international market,”  Nurul Alam, deputy director and head of Media Cell at the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), told the Daily Sun.

Although the drug authorities have increased the medicine prices by a certain amount, many retailers are selling the drugs at prices higher than the fixed ones.

“We regularly conduct drives against the pharmacy stores which sell drugs in higher prices than the DGDA-fixed ones,” Nurul Alam said.

A number of drug items used for communicable and non-communicable diseases, including cardiac diseases, have been increased by 50 to 100 percent in retail markets, coupled with increasing prices of various essential commodities, plunging people into a critical condition to manage cost of living.

“Of the out-of-pocket expenditure in health cost, 64 percent is spent for medicine purpose. That’s why, the out-of-pocket expenditure will increase further for the country’s people due to the increases in the medicine prices,” Dr Syed Abdul Hamid, professor at the Institute of Health Economics of Dhaka University, said.

Talking to the Daily Sun, a number of people who are fixed-income earners and day-labourers said now it has become difficult to continue their routine courses of medicine regularly due to the price hike of many life-saving drugs in the country recently.

“I have asthma problem and hypertension. I have to take inhaler for asthma and hypertension medicine every day. But it has been difficult for me to continue the routine course of the drugs regularly due to the price hike of the drugs,” Sabera Islam, a resident of Mirpur area of the capital, told the Daily Sun.

Abul Kashem, a day-labourer in Sadar upazila of Pabna district, said, “I have been suffering from various health complications for long but I can’t go to doctors in fear of burden of treatment expenditure. At the same time, I have no ability to take drugs prescribed by doctors regularly as I’m already struggling to earn livelihood every for my family.”

However, a number of patients suffering from hypertension, asthma and kidney diseases said they are skipping intake of some drugs regularly due to exorbitant prices of the medicines recently.

The DGDA revised prices of 53 drugs, including Paracetamol, Metronidazole, Amoxicillin, Xylometazoline, ORS and Aspirin by increasing the prices in July last year.

According to the website of the DGDA till 5 September this year, there are 301 Allopathic Drug Manufacturers, 205 Ayurvedic Drug Manufacturers and 39 Herbal Drug Manufacturers in the country.

There are over 20,000 branded medicines in Bangladesh so far while the government drug authority DGDA can control pricing of 117 generic medicines and 460 brand products. “The price of other products is fixed by the respective pharmaceutical companies as per the international market,” Nurul Alam said.

Talking to the Daily Sun, Ghulam Rahman, president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said consumers are suffering a lot due to the increases in the medicine prices and all essential commodities.

“Earlier, the government drug authorities would fix prices of maximum pharmaceutical products but now it fixes prices of only 117 products. That’s why the pharmaceutical industries owners have got a free-hand to fix prices of their products,” he said.

“A number of mid-level pharmaceutical companies are struggling to survive due to getting no adequate amount of price of many medicines as raw materials price has increased international market,” Managing Director of Indo-Bangla Pharmaceuticals Limited AFM Anwarul Haque said.