CAC welcomes new National Drug Policy
President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government are of the view that a
new drug policy should be introduced to help patients buy quality drugs
and get good medical treatment at affordable prices.
The Board of the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) referred the issue
of pricing of pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka to the attention of the
Consumer Affairs Council (CAC). Accordingly, the CAC makes following
suitable recommendations concerning the matter.
The final report on pricing of pharmaceuticals prepared by the
Consumer Affairs Council recommends that the present pricing formula,
the procedure to monitor it and vary the pricing formula havebeen a
cumbersome procedure. Therefore, a simplified and effective method has
to be introduced at fixing prices.
Consumer Affairs Council chairman Senior Attorney Upali Senaratne
said the pricing formula would prevent the practice of issuing bonus
packs and help maintain the product at a static price with small
variations. “It will terminate unhealthy and unethical practices
followed by some pharmaceutical companies. By law, the practice of
doctors being helped in this unethical manner, such as, giving heavy
bonuses, foreign trips has to be proscribed to bring down the prices of
these drugs. The Medical Council will have to take effective measures to
curb this menace,” the CAC chairman added.
The Council is of the view that the price formula should be fixed at
80-85% MRP (Market Retail Price) of the CIF value of these drugs, which
are now priced more than 300% of the CIF value. The list of essential
medicines was published by the Healthcare and Nutrition Ministry in
2009. The present set of drugs which are given at low prices, should
remain at the same prices without being increased.
The Council also recommended that should be uniformity for the
selling price of drugs throughout the country. No counterfeit drug
should be allowed to flood the market. No selling of old stocks should
be allowed at a higher price when the new price is increased due to
All imports, manufacturers should mark their prices on the pack and
inside the pack and the packing in which they send the pharmaceuticals
to the market. Prices must be legible and should be marked in indelible
ink. This should be done in a way that prevents the seller from
interfering with the marked price.
Over 50 brands of drugs such as antibiotics can be found in
phamacies.The Council recommends that brands be brought down to less
than 10, so that waste of foreign exchange can be curtailed to a great
extent. Even in certain developed countries, brands are limited to about
eight to 10 varieties at the most.
“Drugs which are manufactured in unhygienic conditions in several
countries are being sold at very high prices and the government should
maintain the list of manufacturing agencies from whom these
pharmaceuticals should be imported,“the Council report added.
Pharmacies should display the prices of all essential drugs.
Pharmacies should be well maintained and air conditioned. A qualified
pharmacist should be available at every pharmacy. Laboratory facilities
should be made available for testing the quality of drugs which are
imported, manufactured and sold.
“The move by the government to formulate a National Drug Policy is
highly appreciated. The sooner it is done, the better, “the Council
The implementation of these recommendations shall be done by the
Ministries of Health,Finance and Trade. Other members of the Council are
Wasantha Gunawardena and Sudath Wijewickrema.