Price control on 48 drugs | Sunday Observer

Price control on 48 drugs

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) has warned pharmaceutical distributors that it was a punishable offence to sell drugs above the maximum retail price following the gazette notification issued on Friday on the new revised prices.

It also warned that raising prices that were lower than the maximum retail price before the gazette notification was also a punishable offence.

A gazette notification signed by the Minister of Health, Dr Rajitha Senaratne, to reduce prices of 48 drugs from midnight Friday, was issued by the NMRA. “The new prices under the first phase are now in effect. All those who sell drugs above the maximum retail price will have to reduce their prices immediately, while prices which are below the maximum retail price will not be allowed to be raised to the ceiling given,” Chief Executive Officer of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority, Dr Kamal Jayasinghe told the Sunday Observer on Saturday.

Citing metformin tablets commonly used by diabetic patients as an example, he said, “The ceiling price after the revision is now Rs 3.95 a tablet. No one should sell it above this price and if it was being sold at less than the new ceiling price, they cannot raise it either”.

The prices were decided by a Committee headed by Chairman, National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), Dr Palitha Abeykoon, with the participation of the Chairman NMRA Prof Asitha de Silva.

They followed discussions between Ministry officials and all stakeholders in the pharmaceutical trade- from large and small importers, distributors, pharmacies to foreign delegates from the European Union.

He said the Health Ministry would reduce the prices of the other essential drugs in the near future. In the second phase the more expensive commonly used drugs would be reduced. They will include tumours, benign lumps and cancers, Dr. Jayasinghe said.

Questioned as to whether the large number of drugs now listed with pharmacies would be reduced, he said, “We will register only commonly used drugs that have less than twenty brands. This will automatically control the number of brands for a particular drug”.

Dr Jayasinghe said the Health Ministry was also in the process of setting up a new sophisticated quality laboratory which will ensure quality drugs.

“Patients will soon have access to affordable quality drugs of international standards,” he reiterated.

The overall price reduction initiated by the Health Minister Dr Rajith Senaratne at the request of President Maithrapala Sirisena, is approximately 50 percent. This has resulted in a total cost reduction of Rs 4000 million rupees, health sources said.