ECONOMYNEXT – The Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industries (SLCPI) is calling for a price formula with identified components which will be regularly revised in place of the ad hoc price controls now imposed by a regulator, an official said.
The National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA), Sri Lanka’s medicine regulator, controls over 61 drugs that are imported into the country.
With the recent strengthening of the rupee against the US dollar, prices of the 61 controlled drugs have lowered by 16 percent from this month after negotiations with the industry.
Drug firms have seen costs go up as the rupee fell.
Though import costs have fallen with the central bank strengthening the rupee, drug storage and supply involves multiple costs which have gone up with electricity prices, according to the industry.
“We believe it is crucial to factor in the unique expenses associated with the pharmaceutical sector,” M. Prathaban, the newly elected president of the SLCPI, at its annual general meeting.
“This includes cold chain maintenance, temperature control of warehouses and retail outlets, transportation, as well as heating.”
Prices should be reviewed on a regular basis, he said.
“All these variables should be included, and then we need to arrive at a mechanism,” Prathaban said.
“We can define whether we review it every 3 months or later every 1 month,”
“We are hopeful that within the next 3-4 months, we will be able to develop a fair and workable price mechanism that takes into account these industry-specific expenses.”
Changing management and administration of authorities as well as software problems at the medical regulator had complicated matters.
“Over the past 5 years, there have been frequent changes in the administration of institutions, resulting in a lack of stability,” he said.
“Additionally, there have been issues with the e-platform, which recurred, and a significant backlog in the 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.”
The industry also wants a drug registration fee now defined in US dollar to be redefined in rupees.
“Regulatory fees were increased exorbitantly with the introduction of the NMRA Act in 2016,” he said.
“In addition, the fees were defined in US dollars, making them susceptible to exchange fluctuations.
“You can’t change that on a monthly basis based on dollar fluctuations. I see. So you want to have a rupee-based registration fee for the month.”
The basis for charging the fee should also be revised, he said. (Colombo/June26/2023)