The Directorate General of Drug Administration has recently increased the prices of 19 generic drugs of 53 brands, while the prices of some other drugs have been increased by the drug manufacturers as the government appears to have no control over them.
The rise in drug prices comes at a time when people in general are already affected by soaring prices for basic necessities and services.
Director General of Medicines Administration, Md Ayub Hossain, said that in view of rising raw material prices, the Price Review Committee set the new prices for 19 generic drugs, including paracetamol very diffused.
At the 58th meeting of the awards review committee held at the secretariat on June 30, the committee made the decision.
The drug administration has set prices for 117 items, though there are 1,659 generic drugs available in the Bangladesh market produced by 230 pharmaceutical companies, officials said.
Prices for essential medicines increased by 5% to almost double their previous prices.
The price of Paracetamol 500mg tablet has increased from Tk 0.70 to Tk 1.20, Metronidazole 200mg tablet 1.00 Tk from Tk 0.60 and Amoxicillin BP 15ml vial to Tk 35 of 26.34 Tk.
Director of Medicines Administration Md Ayub Hossain said they had revised the prices after seven years as they were last updated in 2015.
“If we don’t raise prices for 19 key generic drugs, producers will stop production,” he said on Sunday.
According to drug administration officials, more than 30 companies, including Beximco Phrmaceuticals Ltd, Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd and Opsonin Pharma Ltd, had already been licensed to produce drugs at higher prices, although a gazette has not yet been published in this respect. .
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury said out of 117 items, 70 were actually drugs while the rest are vaccines and contraceptives.
Due to rising raw material prices and rising dollar price, the price of drugs may increase, he added.
“The prices of drugs set by the government are fine, but the companies set the prices of most drugs as they wish because the government has not monitored them. People would be hit hard by the increase in drug prices,” Zafrullah said.
He added that the government should control the prices of all medical items.
In this regard, Ayub said that they cannot do this until the health department asks them to control the prices of all drugs.
Md Sayedur Rahman, Professor of Pharmacology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, said if the drug administration wished, they could control the prices of all drugs as per the Drugs (Control) Ordinance of 1982.
He argued that the order empowered the administration to set prices for all drugs, but that it had only done so for 117 items based on a 1992 order.
“A producer cannot fix the prices of vital medical items; government intervention is essential to control it considering public health,” he said.
While visiting the drug markets of Panthapath, Hatirjheel and Karwanbazar in the capital, it was found that pharmacies were charging higher prices to customers.
Traders said the prices of some drugs had tripled in two years.
Within three months, the price of Calbo-D tablet increased by 2 Tk, Clavusef tablet by 500 Tk 5, rabeprazole Tk 2 and vitamin prices increased by 2 Tk per piece.
The country now has a drug market of Tk 30,000 crore and 98% of the total domestic demand is met by local pharmaceutical companies and a number of companies also export drugs.