Leading pharmaceuticals such as Beximco, Square, Incepta and Novartis have significantly increased medicine prices on the plea that raw material import has become costlier because of the appreciation of the dollar.
Pharmacists said that the companies had increased the prices of a large number of drugs, most of which are commonly used, since February 01 without any notice and had indicated at an increase in prices of other drugs very soon.
The 261 pharmaceutical industries of the country produce more than 2,200 brands, selling medicines worth more than Tk 10,000 crore a year.
Directorate General of Drug Administration officials on Sunday said that the maximum retail prices of only 117 listed generic items were set by the government.
Companies willing to increase the maximum retail price need to apply to the Drug Administration and the committee headed by the health secretary approves it if the increase is logical, the officials said. The committee of the director general of the drug administration and representatives of the consumers association, the Bangladesh Medical Association and the pharmaceutical owners’ association last met in the end of August 2011 to approve the enhanced prices of some of the medicines, a drug administration official said. Increased prices of 30 items were approved at the meeting in August 2011, he added.
‘Apart from the 117 listed drugs, the prices of other items are set by respective companies. They only inform us of the price and the drug administration sets the amount of value added tax to be paid,’ said the drug administration’s assistant director Mohammad Ruhul Amin.
The pharmaceutical companies had cited the increase in import cost of raw materials and in many cases sought redress as they have been charging the same price since 1994, the official said. The Consumers Association of Bangladesh president, Quazi Faruque, said that they had been observing for around a year and a half the trend of increase in drug prices which rose by up to 50 per cent. ‘Consumers are helpless about the increase in medicine prices while many physicians prescribe drugs of different companies in an underhand dealing with medical representatives,’ Faruque alleged. He observed that the price increase was severely affecting consumers. Some consumers criticised the price increase saying that pharmaceutical companies were often exempted from paying the 15 per cent value added tax.
Pharmaceutical industry owners, meanwhile, said that the raw materials for the 2200 allopathic medicines made in Bangladesh were imported from India, China and European countries. Drug prices have increased up to 20 per cent since February 1, pharmacists said adding that the price of each strip of Paracetamol tablet Ace of Square Pharmaceuticals increased from Tk 8 to Tk 12 and Beximco’s Napa from Tk 8 to Tk 10.
Prices of Anti-ulcer medicines, including Incepta’s Pentonix, have increased from Tk 30 to Tk 40, Antacid Plus tablets from Tk 12 to Tk 15 a strip, Antacid Plus syrup from Tk 65 to Tk 75 a bottle, anti-histamine medicines, including Tofen, from Tk 15 to Tk 20 a strip and Tofen syrup from Tk 40 to Tk 45. Price of cardiac medicines including Parinox 40mg went up from Tk 340 to Tk 350 a strip, Parinox 60mg from Tk 525 to Tk 600, and Amdocal Plus 25mg from Tk 45 to Tk 55.50, pharmacists said. Prices of hormonal medicines including Allygest has gone up from Tk 185 to Tk 210, Zoleta tablet from Tk 125 to Tk 175, Testanon injection from Tk 140 to Tk 147 and anti-depression medicines including Frenxit from Tk 525 to Tk600 a box and Frenia 4mg Tk 40 to Tk 55. Price of Traxyl injection has gone up from Tk 32 to Tk 35, Anarxyl injection from Tk 53 to Tk 58 and Anarxyl tablet from Tk 190 to Tk 212.
Price of some life-saving drugs have also marked an abnormal increase and the poor cannot afford to buy such essential drugs, Faroque said