The prices of 48 essential medicines which have been reduced in price in October 2016, have been increased again.
Minister of Health, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says he has taken steps to increase the prices of medicine by 05% due to increase of the prices of medicines in the world market. The Minister also said that the price was increased after a study carried out by The National Medicine Regulatory Authority following a request made by the Pharmaceutical Importers’ and their Association. The importers claim that they are making losses due to the price increase in drugs in the global market.
According to the gazette notification signed by the Minister of Health, this price ceiling will be valid for a period of one year. He explained, despite the increasing price of drugs in the world market during this period, there will be no change in the prices of medicines in Sri Lanka. However, it was clear that the Minister did not attempt to say that the price drop in the world market would not change the price in Sri Lanka.
The price of 48 essential drugs was reduced in October 2016 with a large-scale of advertising campaign organised by the government. At the time, the Ministry of Health was spending millions of rupees for full page advertisements in all the news papers, electronic media advertising and a massive colourful poster project to promote the price reduction of medicines throughout the country. However, over the course of a year with the prices of medicines were reduced, there was no such practical experience of the relief for the patients. Doctors said that the general public had not benefited from those reduced price drugs because there were other similar drugs in the market at a low cost already.
However, the 5% increase imposed by the ministry is affecting all the imported drugs including paracetamol. For example, a paracetimol tablet of 1.30 rupees will now be sold at 1.37 rupees. Also, this will increase the price of drugs prescribed for high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and inhaling medicines.
According to the special gazette notification issued in the 14th December 2017, all pharmacies should sell the drugs to the retail price as indicated within. The National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA) will conduct raids to nab pharmacies which sell drugs at different prices than gazetted, the Health Minister added. This latest gazette notification said that the amended increased upper price limits should be considered as the maximum retail price of those medicines.