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 However, the recommendation was withdrawn following the industry increasing prices of drugs that do not come within its parameters.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:-