174 complaints against pharmacies not adhering to price reductions

by Dilanthi Jayamanne

 The Health Ministry had received 174 complaints against pharmacies which failed to adhere to the gazetted reduction in drug prices since the day of their introduction early this month, its Chief Food and Drug Inspector (FDI), Amith Perera said yesterday.

Chief Food and Drug Inspector, Amith Perera said that amongst the complaints were those regarding the failure to issue drugs at reduced prices and those which stated that they were unaware of the reductions.

Perera said the Ministry has taken steps to come up with a poster announcing the new prices of 48 drugs to be displayed in pharmacies. Remedial measures were also being taken regarding the complaints after notifying the FDIs of the relevant areas to inspect the errant pharmacies concerned.

The Complaint Centre was established in the Ministry’s Disaster Management Unit (DMU). The contact number of the complainant was also taken down so that they could report back to him/her the measures taken to resolve their issues.

Health Ministry sources said pharmaceutical importers had been urged to reduce the prices of the 48 drugs that had been gazetted. However there were certain European manufactured drugs which could not be reduced. Such drug would have to go out of the market. But the majority of drug companies had adhered to gazetted regulations and adjusted the prices of drugs being sold in pharmacies.

Responding to a question regarding the quality of the drugs following the imposition of price reductions, they said the drugs being imported were given a certificate of analysis by the Drug Authority of the country it was being imported from so there was no question of quality dropping owing to price reductions, they said.

Meanwhile the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) accused the Health Ministry of delaying the procedure of establishing a Committee of Authorised Officers to investigate as to whether the public was reaping the benefit of the reduced drug prices.

Assistant Secretary GMOA Dr Haritha Aluthge said that that the committee should be established by a gazette which the Heath Ministry was yet to do. The union had written to Health Minister, Dr Rajitha Senaratne requesting an appointment to discuss the issue.

According to the gazette certain drugs would have been withdrawn from pharmacies in Colombo and other surrounding areas. However the question was the application of the gazetted drug prices in other parts of the county and as to whether certain brands of painkillers sold in grocery stores and supermarkets were also liable to the regulations of the gazette notice, he said.

The GMOA Assistant Secretary said the Health Minister was yet to respond to their request for a meeting.

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