In the absence of competent authority to monitor prices of medicines...Wholesalers, retailers rake in the moolah
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, November 13 2017: There is a growing need for a competent authority to monitor prices of medicines sold by wholesalers to retailers in the State.

There are around 2000 retail pharmacies in the State and approximately 700 wholesalers.

Both retail pharmacies and wholesalers are registered with the Health Directorate, and their registrations are renewed from time to time.

A large variety of medicines as well as non-medicine items are now available in the market and they reach patients from drug manufacturing companies through wholesalers and retailers.

All these medicines and non-medicine items are sold to patients at the printed MRPs.

But the wholesalers do not procure medicines and non-medicine items from companies at the MRPs.

They procure them at much reduced prices.

Subsequently wholesalers offer the same items to retailers much below their MRPs.

Yet medicines and non-medicine items are sold to public at MRPs without giving any room for bargaining.

For instance, a medicine whose MRP is Rs 20 is procured from wholesalers by retailers at below Rs 10, while a medicine whose MRP is Rs 600 is procured by retailers from wholesalers at Rs 375 .

Even as this reporter enquired about this huge disparity between MRPs and actual prices, none of them were willing to tell the truth.

On the contrary, they maintained that they have been running into losses since GST has been introduced.

They even claimed that the situation is so woeful that they may be compelled to give up their profession of being drug retailers.

But GST says that no goods should be sold above its MRP and the dealer can sell goods at the lowest price he/she can afford.

Tax would be levied based on the price at which he/she sells a particular article, not on the MRP.

This reporter also enquired about the huge disparity between wholesale and retail prices of medicines and nonmedicine items to the Health Directorate and it was learnt that there is no authority at the moment to look into the matter.

One key official of the Health Directorate said that there is no competent authority to monitor prices of medicines and non-medicine items.

There should be a price monitoring and research unit under the Health Director.

Such units have been already opened in some States and this should be done with due consent of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Department ofPharmaceuticals, said theofficial.

At the same there is a growing need for strengthening the directorate's drug control administration.

The directorate can be upgraded to the level of a department, if possible.

Only then, quality, safety and efficacy of medicines and non-medicine items sold to public can be effectively checked.

Taking due note that generic drugs are much cheaper, the Government of India, as a matter of policy, has directed all concerned to provide generic drugs to public.

But supplying generic drugs to public requires effective monitoring of quality, safety and efficacy.

This is where the role of drug control administration gains prominence, said the official.

Health Minister L Jayantakumar told The Sangai Express that he would enquire why a price monitoring and research unit has not been opened yet.

He further assured that he would look into all the requirements of opening such a unit.

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