Artificial crunch

Cartel jacks up drug prices


Unscrupulous medicine dealers have allegedly raised prices of certain medicines, thought to be effective against coronavirus, by creating artificial crisis ahead of the possible second wave of the virus infection.

Sources said certain antibiotics and some other supplementary medicines are now sold at most of the retail drug stores at twice the legal prices. 

Besides, the prices of some of the most commonly used drugs, used to treat coronavirus infection, are skyrocketing.

According to the sources, sales of drugs like Scavo-6, Ivera-12, Paracetamol, Azithromycin, antihistamines, and vitamin C tablets have increased several times, resulting in their supply shortage.

A drug store owner in Mitford said a box of Vitamin C is selling at Tk 800 against the official price of Tk 482, a box of 10 pieces of iron tablet is selling at Tk 50 against Tk 30, Calcium D of 200 IU per piece at Tk 13 against Tk 8, and Oradexon Grap at Tk 80 from Tk 30.

The World Health Organization and experts hope that the most effective vaccinesmay be available earliest by the end of this year. However, since vaccines are not yet available, people are stockpiling various medicines to prevent coronavirus.

This tendency has increased among people since the outbreak of Covid-19. For such reason of stockpiling, the price of medicines has increased giving excuse of an artificial crisis. Coronavirus initially put pressure on the price of the drugs. 

Since last April, it is noticed that there has been an increase in demand for certain drugs. People are stockpiling these medicines in their homes without any need.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, syndicates have started a reckless trade raising the prices of the prescribed or even unprescribed drugs. 

According to drug store sales representatives in Shahbagh, Dhaka Medical College and Hospital and Mitford Hospital, it was learnt that some specific antibiotics are costlier which are said to be very effective in treating coronavirus infection.Despite having price tag printed on the boxes of the drugs, the drug store retailers are realizing extra money saying that the drugs are not always readily available. 

According to market sources, a box of Reconil 200 mg now cost Tk600 which used to be Tk 360, a box containing 30 tablets of Monas 10 mg now cost Tk 1000 which used to be less than Tk 500 even a week ago, Azithromycin 500 mg tablets were seen selling at Tk 600 in place of Tk 450. 

Even, simple analgesics have gone costlier.A strip of 10 tablets of Paracetamol of 500 mg used to be around Tk 10 wich is now selling at Tk 20 apiece. The price of commonly used drug for the treatment of coronavirus - Fexofenadil was Tk 75 but now it is being sold at Tk 90 to Tk 100. 

When contacted, Ayub Hossain, Director General of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) told Bangladesh Post,“Taking advantage of coronavirus pandemic, some people may be involved in dishonest business. We will take action if these come to our notice. Measures have already been taken against such unscrupulous traders, which is an ongoing process.”