ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka runs the risk of ‘original’ drugs going off the shelves, depriving patients of free access of the most effective drugs, after price controls were imposed, an industry body said.
"While the SLCPI confirm that there are very effective generic products in the market there are many instances when the quality of some of these products become questionable," the Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry said in a statement.
"Therefore, placing total dependence on this pharmaceutical segment can jeopardise the health of the patient."
Sri Lanka’s new administration started an agency that imposed price controls and also delayed approvals.
Some patients and carers complain that they have to spend time and a money traveling to several or bigger pharmacies to find drugs that were easily accessible and available two years ago. Simple drugs such such as piriton is not available at times.
Generic drugs do not undergo clinical trials and their efficacy could vary though they may be chemically similar to the ‘innovator’ or ‘original’ drug. So called ‘original drugs’ however can be more expensive.
The Pharma Chamber said it will comply with price controls announced by the state.
"The Pharmaceutical market in Sri Lanka is largely an import based one that enjoyed the opportunity of having access to high quality innovator products from countries around the world as well as generic drugs that were mostly imported from the Asian region," the Chamber said.
"Thus the patients of this country had the freedom to avail themselves of pharmaceutical products based on their needs.
"However, the currently imposed ceiling on drug pricing which has been gazetted, runs the risk of innovator drug companies exiting the market due to their inability to price pharmaceutical products as low as what is stipulated by the authorities.
"It is almost impossible for an innovator drug, manufactured after years of research and clinical trials to be priced similar to one of its generic formulations."
The Chamber said if companies that made original drugs exited the country and were without agents patients will have to fly out of the country to get them. A parallel grey market, with counterfeits can also develop.
The Chamber said have been instances where some drugs may have been overpriced.
The price of a drug depends on the import price, cost of distribution and the sales volume. Analysts have warned that price controls can put drugs and medications that are rarely used, and require big margins to keep in the market, off the shelves.
Price controls could also halt the expansion of the pharmacy network and result in the closure of pharmacies in remoter regions where volume sales are small, analysts say.
Smaller margins may confine the sale of some drugs to larger pharmacies in bigger towns with higher volumes as companies try to cut distribution costs. (Colombo/Oct27/2016)