National, Front Page

Medicine prices outrageous, buyers pay thru the nose 

Published : 23 Mar 2024 10:48 PM

A sexagenarian man asked a pharmacist at a drugstore in the city for a leaf of tablet Angilock, but was left mumbling when charged Tk 20 more for the leaf containing 10 tablets. 

He had to pay the amount as he had no alternative but to have it.

“I used to buy the medicine at Tk 80. But the pharmacist asked me to pay Tk 100. As I do not have any option, I have bought the medicine at a high rate,” Mohammad Yunus, who works as a guard of a 10-storied residential building at Malibagh, said. 

“My monthly budget for medicine has gone up by 30 per cent because of the price hike of medicine. I do not know how I can manage my family,” he said. 

Usually, people of that working group draw around Tk 10,000 per month.   

Pharmacists say that the price of Angilock, which helps treat all grades of hypertension and heart ailments, has gone up recently.

At least 16 types of medicines, including antibiotics, heart ailment tablets and insulin went up in a week while the price of over 100 types of medicines shot up in the last three months, they said.

Consumers allege that like other essential commodities, the price of life saving drugs continues to rise, thanks to a poor oversight of the authorities concerned. 

They say that they have been compelled to take the life-saving drugs at a high price to go by the prescription of the physicians.

A piece of Odrel, an antiplatelet medicine or a blood thinner that helps prevent the formation of harmful blood clots in blood vessels, is being sold at Tk 12. The price was Tk 10 earlier. 

Each piece of Atova 10 milligram tablet that works as an adjunct to diet to reduce elevated total cholesterol is sold at Tk 12 too. People used to buy the item at Tk 10 in the past.

Market insiders say that the prices of medicine have gone up by 20 per cent to 66 per cent. 

Talking to Bangladesh Post, public health experts say that the owners are increasing the price of their products on the plea of high price of raw materials. 

The pharmaceutical companies are increasing the price of their products to line their pockets, they say, urging the government to take effective measures along with strengthening market monitoring.

According to the Directorate General of Drug Administration, medicine of some 1,500 life-saving drugs are being produced in thecountry. Insiders say that of the items, some 219 items are in the list of essential medicines. The government fixes the price of only 117 items while the price of the rest of the items is fixed by the pharmaceutical companies.

An owner of a medicine store told Bangladesh Post that the prices of a number of drugs have gone up in the current year. 

“In some cases, the prices of some medicines have gone up three times,” said a pharmacist working at a noted store. 

Leaders of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries say that the price of medicine should go up considering the current rate of dollar and high import cost of raw materials, packaging and shipment. 

Consumer Association of Bangladesh president Ghulam Rahman told Bangladesh Post that people feel the pinch of price of medicine as the buying capacity of the people continues to go  down.

“All the businesses want to line their pockets ignoring the interest of the common people,” he said. 

The CAB president is critical over the role of the Drug Administration for keeping mum despite the price hike of various types of medicine.

“Except for the price of 117 items, they refrain from poking their nose,” he said. 

Over the claim of the business community, he said, “It is true that the dollar rate has shot up. Yet, the price of medicine must be kept at the buying capacity of the people.”

Amid a public outcry, the health ministry sat for a meeting with the stakeholders to fix the price of medicine and stents, placed inside a narrowed coronary artery after balloon angioplasty.

After the meeting, health secretary Jahangir Alam said that the price of stents has not been hiked. 

“The price of stents remain unchanged,” he said, adding that they could not run the discussions to fix the price of medicine due to time constraints.