Stop price hike of medicines

Published : 17 Mar 2024 10:21 PM

It is frustrating that, at a time when common men are facing serious financial hardship caused by skyrocketing price hike of essential commodities, businessmen and pharmacists are arbitrarily raising prices of life saving drugs. This is tantamount to the adage trouble upon trouble when the consumers are paying through the nose. 

Several stories published on Saturday and Sunday in different national dailies detailed how and in what way medicine shop owners across the country are harassing patients by charging almost 20 percent to 66 percent more for medications, even though there is no shortage of any medicine in the market.

Pharmaceutical companies have increased the prices of commonly prescribed medicines by up to 75 percent, adding plight to consumers already reeling from the price hike of essentials. The outrageous prices of medicine are affecting the poor patients badly, making their lives miserable. 

So, the unprecedented drug price hike that hits the poor segment of society and middle-income families hard as well is not acceptable to reason. There are more than 26,000 medicine items in the market, but the Drug Administration capped the prices of only 117 drugs. 

If the pharmaceutical companies want to increase the prices of those 117 life saving drugs, they must take approval from the government to do so. The general people are paying over two-thirds of their treatment cost out of their own pockets, according to a study. The price hike, therefore, puts a burden on their purse.  

The rate of out-of-pocket expenditure in the country is quite high compared to the world perspective. Pharmaceutical companies say the price hike of raw materials and increase in production costs force them to raise the prices of medicines while the medicine retailers claim they have nothing to do when pharmaceutical companies increase prices at will. 

However, either the pharmaceutical companies or the medicine shop owners must understand the patients’ sufferings and their relatives’ pain caused by unbridled medicine prices. Many poor patients suffering from serious diseases have been depriving of medicines since long as they cannot afford medicine at high prices. 

Drug price hike that hits 

the poor segment of society

 and middle-income families hard as 

well is not acceptable to reason

Bangladesh has high prevalence of non-communicable, communicable and viral disease such as cardiovascular ailments, diabetes and hypertension. As many people suffer from these common health issues, it is very difficult for them to purchase medicines because of high price. 

Many people are now avoiding medical procedures and tests involving too much expenses. The price hike in medicines has also encouraged the organised counterfeiting gangs in different places of the country to manufacture copies of various life saving drugs. 

The government should strictly monitor the medicine market to control prices of essential drugs at first. If medicine shop owners charge additional price, they should be brought to book. 

Apart from this, the government will have to launch a crackdown on counterfeiting gangs involved in copying and manufacturing medicines immediately. Considering the overall situation, the government hospitals and community clinics can play key a role in providing some medicines for free to the rural patients. 

If the government procures drugs, it will ensure quality at competitive price. Simultaneously, the affluent people and the businessmen should extend their all-out support to the poor patients to get essential medicines.

The physicians must refrain from prescribing unnecessary drugs for commission to save the people from pecuniary distress. If the government fails to take immediate steps to halt the price hike of life-saving drugs, it would be very difficult for the poor patients to bear the cost of the treatment.