Medicine prices in Sri Lanka, lowest in the region – SLCPI chief | Sunday Observer

Medicine prices in Sri Lanka, lowest in the region – SLCPI chief

25 June, 2023
Mylvaganam Prathaban
Mylvaganam Prathaban

Independent research data has consistently shown that prices of medicines in Sri Lanka are lower than in all comparable regional countries, said incoming President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI), Mylvaganam Prathaban at its AGM at the Taj Samudra on Friday.

“Our members also complied with the recent drastic price reduction of 16% because of its patient centric intentions,” he said.

Prior to the setting up of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), pharmaceuticals were categorised as specified items by the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) and were allowed to maintain a maximum markup of 85% from the CIF value. “Considering that socio-economic indicators have doubled or even tripled, while the industry is being requested to work with a reduced markup, we believe it is crucial to factor in the unique expenses associated with the pharmaceutical sector.”

“These include cold chain maintenance, temperature control of warehouses and retail outlets, transportation, as well as hidden write-off costs. Many of these expenses are highly sensitive to fuel prices and finance costs.

“With the little discussion had with the newly appointed Chairman of the pricing committee, we were pleased to observe his understanding of the challenges faced by the industry.

“We are hopeful that within the next three to four months, we will be able to develop a fair and workable price mechanism that takes into account these industry-specific expenses and the ultimate benefit will be passed on to the patients,” he added.

“As the watchdog of the industry, the NMRA is expected to provide efficient and transparent services. However, over the past five years, there has been frequent changes in administration of the institution, resulting in a lack of stability.

“There have been issues with the e-platform, which was discarded, and a significant backlog in day-to-day operations. These challenges have left the industry in a state of uncertainty and have required constant engagement to handle even simple matters.”

“Nevertheless, with the recent appointment of a new CEO, we have seen improvements and consistency of performance which has led to optimism among suppliers that they can place their confidence in the institution,” Prathaban said.

As the industry faces financial challenges, the extensive delays in payments by the SPC have caused severe financial strain on companies, pushing them beyond their limits.

“We request the government to urgently address the issue of delayed payment settlements and to reconsider the one-sided tender clauses.”

“Out of the total private market 95% of the contribution comes through the importation of Pharmaceuticals which clearly shows how susceptible we are to exchange fluctuations.”

It is obvious that India being the nearest pharma hub, the Indian pharma companies dominate the market with 64% share in the retail market space.

SLCPI is an integral part of the ecosystem of the healthcare sector in Sri Lanka and directly employ over 80,000 individuals and indirectly support nearly 400,000 more. Their members represent more than 75% of the 130 billion pharmaceutical industry which is a very significant percentage.