Price control on meds urgently needed, says govt agency

Sothi-RachaganKUALA LUMPUR: There is an urgent need for the government to implement price controls on medicine, says the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC).

MyCC commissioner Professor Dr Sothi Rachagan said currently the price gap between the government and private sectors was huge and prices were higher than the International Reference Price (IRP).

“The price of medicine purchased by the government is 1.3 times higher than the IRP while for the private sector, it is 2.9 times higher,” he told Bernama during the Malaysian Competition Conference here yesterday.

Sothi, who is also Nilai University vice-chancellor, said that with price controls on medicine, the health ministry’s expenditure could be reduced as the purchase of medicine took a huge proportion of the total healthcare expenditure.

“In 2010, expenditure came to a total of RM1.61 billion and by 2013, it was recorded at RM2.2 billion. It goes up every year,” he said, quoting a report by the health ministry’s director-general.

On Feb 18, 2015, MyCC issued a guideline for Good Pharmaceutical Trade Practices specifying five points, including a standard price and bonus scheme that could apply to all channels and healthcare providers.

However, the guideline had no mandatory effect on price controls for medicine.

Sothi said that if the government adhered to the IRP, and put in place the Pharmacy Act which was currently in the final stages, it would bring down the prices of medicine.

“Most developing nations have some sort of price control on medications, but Malaysia does not. This is important as this will allow people to get access to cheaper and quality medicines,” he said.

The two-day conference that began yesterday featured speakers from around the world, who spoke on the importance of competition in business. The conference was officiated by Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah.