The National Medicine Regulatory Authority ( NMRA) last week issued notice on five leading pharmaceutical  importers cancelling   registration on ten pharmaceutical drugs for violating the regulations of the NMRA Act under which the companies were given the right to import.

The NMRA said the pharmaceutical companies had taken unilateral decision to increase the  prices of drugs of popular brands sold in the market..

The companies include Hemas Pharmaceutical Pvt Lltd., Baur and Co. Pvt Ltd. Euro Asian Pharmacy Pvt Ltd., Pettah Pharmacy (Pvt) Lltd. And Robert Hall & Co. Pvt Lltd.

The drugs include Xon Ce,   Zeos 10 mg,  Hebesser 100 mg,  Rivotril 0.5mg and 2 mg, Calcivita, Levitoz 5mg, Daktacort cream,  Dorzil 5mg and 10 mg, Vermox 100 and 500 mg and  Betadine Cream.

The drugs  are mainly prescribed for allergies, hypertension, epilepsy, skin rashes,  inflammation, worm infection and as an antiseptic on skin of postoperative  patients.

The NMRA said the increase is in violation of conditions  issued under the registration and is causing hardship to patients in the midst of the COVID -19 pandemic. The  cancellation  of registrations means   the pharmaceutical companies will not be able to import the above drugs with immediate effect.

The letter signed by CEO Kamal Jayasinghe said the punitive action was necessary to ensure affordability of medicines to patients. It also said  the companies have gone against section 65 of  NMRA Act no. 5 of 2015 which prohibits any price  increase without the permission of the NMRA.

Last month,  the NMRA following a market surveillance issued show cause letters to the Sri Lanka Chambers of Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) and seven leading pharmaceutical companies for the unauthorized increase in the price of around 20 medicinal drugs in the market.

The price increases comes despite the SLCPI  lobbying for  increases on price  on 60 essential drugs and medical devices that comes under the control of the  NMRA.

The SLPC requested  a price increase on essential drugs citing the devaluation of the rupee  against the dollar and conceding that  to continue  imports without a price  revision is  untenable for the industry.

Ironically, the price increase comes in the wake of  the NMRA recommending an increase of 9% on retail price of  essential drugs  to the Health Ministry. However, the recommendation was withdrawn following the industry increasing prices of drugs that do not come within its parameters.

The NMRA has brought 60 pharmaceuticals and medical devices under its control in 2015 which constitutes 65% of the market share of drugs. The price regulation it argues has increased the volume of sales of the price regulated medicine during the last five years bringing in revenue up to  Rs. 7 billion for the industry.

President of SLCPI Kasturi Wilson  in response said  “ These are non-controlled items.”

The related press release is below:-

Press Releases
The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), plays a leading role in protecting and improving public health by ensuring medicinal products available in the country meet applicable standards of safety, quality, and efficacy. The Authority regulates medicines, medical devices, borderline produc…