The Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) in a statement to media said they were grateful for the effective action taken by the Health Ministry in increasing the price of drugs by 5 percent.
Implemented in October 2016 on 48 molecules, the price ceiling impacted the pharmaceutical industry, particularly as importers had to reimburse retailers and distributors for the stocks held at the time of the pricing ceiling and in support of effective implementation.
Since March 2014, when all pharmaceuticals products were gazetted as essential items, the prices of most drugs have remained unchanged despite the devaluation of the Lankan rupee from 130 to 155 for one US dollar. Most pharma companies did not adjust the prices expecting a viable long-term pricing mechanism as envisaged in the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Act, thereby sustaining the losses year-on-year.
“The government’s increase of prices of 48 drugs was well considered and appropriate, given the global market conditions. Globally, the disease burden on countries and economies has been shifting to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, cancer and lung-related diseases. Addressing the NCD burden will call for new and innovative medicines, including biologics and new forms of treatment and therapies,” stated SLCPI President Shyam Sathasivam.
“Almost 90 percent of pharmaceutical products are imported and the exchange rate impacts significantly on the pricing. The exchange devaluation of the Sri Lankan rupee has greatly increased the cost of pharmaceutical products causing a risk to its continuity,” he stated.
The SLCPI asserts that access to healthcare includes access to medicines.
“It is important that healthcare be affordable; much of healthcare is already very affordable in Sri Lanka. Currently, around 80 percent of inpatient care and 50 percent of outpatient care is provided by the public system, while the private sector accounts for the remaining. Capping prices on the much-needed medicines for cancer and cardio-vascular diseases, for example, in the name of making them affordable could result in their not being available for the people that need them. Many of those medicines have to be imported, since we do not make them. In raising prices even marginally, the government has balanced affordability with availability so that the patients receive the benefits of both,”
stated the SLCPI.