The Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) urges the urgent implementation of price controls on pharmaceutical drugs. As stated by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Hamzah Zainuddin in a local daily, “Malaysians have been paying excessive prices for pharmaceutical drugs due to an absence of government control.”
CAP has been urging that pharmaceutical drugs be placed under price control for years but it has fallen on deaf ears. Pharmaceutical drugs are an essential item and health is a basic need. Escalating drug prices put a tremendous strain on the financial resources of the government and the public. It is about time pharmaceutical drug price controls are implemented.
A National Drug Pricing Control System can be introduced which will maintain the prices of drugs in the public and private sector at a level that is reasonable, stable and affordable. The effective use of an Essential Drugs List and the wide usage of more generic drugs as opposed to patent brands can also be encouraged and supported.
The absence of price controls has led to the present situation where drug prices vary from place to place. Prices are set based on volume purchases putting small operators at a disadvantage. Consumers throughout the nation in rural and urban areas should be able to get the drugs they need at an affordable published price.
The current economic climate is putting a strain on consumers and it is timely that price control on pharmaceutical drugs is instated.
SM MOHAMED IDRIS is president, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP).