Sri Lankans taking more drugs after price controls, sales rocket: Rajitha

ECONOMYNEXT – Sales of better quality drugs are soaring after price controls and less affluent people are able to take them without a break after prices came down, improving their long-term well-being, Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said.

“Now people are taking better quality drugs,” Senaratne told parliament. “Sales of some drugs have increased 10 or 15 times. People those days used to stop halfway. In several years, you will see better health of people.”

The ‘better quality’ drugs are so-called original drugs on which efficacy is proven by trials and doctors generally know they work by patient feedback.

Generics copy the original drugs but they may not be effective at times. However some generics, made by companies that have built a brand for themselves and each drug are more effective. 

The brand is an incentive to produce a better drug, differentiate and sell at a higher price than other ‘generics’. People will remember the name and whether or not it was effective.

Senaratne said after the price controls some brands had seen soaring sales.

The market for Nexium a drug used for Gastritis, was 148 372 pills but increased by 10 times to 1.23 million pills after the price control.

Rosuvastatin or Crestor a drug uses for cardiovascular decease increased its market for the 10 milligram pill by 7 times from 154 931 pills in 2017 to 752 005 pills and 5 milligram from 181 433 pills to 531 582 pills in 2019.

Atorvastatin drug 10mg pill gained a market 4 times higher from 7 million to 11 million pills and 5 milligram from 2.8 million pills to 6 million pills after the price control.

Omeprazole another medication use for gastritis, 10 milligram pills gained from 710 000 pills to 4.24 million in the market after the price control.

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“In India the prices are increasing by 10 percent each year automatically. But in Sri Lanka we have only increased it two times during past 3 years,,” he said.

“And also if the rupee gets stronger in the future we are ready to decrease the prices further. And we have planned to reduce the price of another 27 essential medicines in the near future.”
(COLOMBO, 27 August 2019)