Pharmaceutical survey shows pharmacies profiteering with huge mark-ups

17/11/2010 09:39

The Consumer Council of Fiji survey on the Fiji Pharmaceutical Industry revealed that majority of the pharmacies in the country is profiteering through astronomical trade margins. The key findings in price analysis for individual medications showed that 30 pharmacies out of the 47 surveyed or 57% charged higher prices for medications with same brand, same batch number, expiry date and same quantity; in some cases overcharge was up to as high as 460%.

Our findings show that despite prescription medicines being under price control within maximum percentage mark-up of 35%, the trade margins are very high.

For example, in the case of frusemide- a medication used for heart disease-  2 pharmacies  including Midway Pharmacy, Ba and Chovhan pharmacy, Lautoka were found charging 460% more for same medicine as sold by the Nadi Chemist. Midway Pharmacy, Ba and Chovhan pharmacy, Lautoka sold frusemide (Microlab) at $4.65 as compared to Nadi Chemist which sold same drug for 0.83cents. This is a case of unethical practice where consumers were duped into buying generic medicine but at an originator drug price. A similar case was also discovered with frusemide Apo where Nasea Chemist in Labasa sold Apo for $1.35 while Northern Drug Store and Thakorlal Pharmacy-Nadi charged $4.65 for the same drug. This was a price difference of 244%.

A good comparison can also be made with Aspirin. Our findings revealed that Midway Pharmacy, Ba sold Asprin at $2.70, which was 350% more for the same quantity and same brand of medicine available at Mega Care Pharmacy, Holistic Pharmacy, Rewa Pharmacy, and Wyse Pharmacy – Valelevu, which sold Aspirin tablets for $0.60. 

Again A J Swan in Suva sold a generic drug metformin (Pure Pharma) of same quantity at $2.00 as compared to Wyse Pharmacy – Valelevu, Mega Care Pharmacy-Makoi, and Holistic Pharmacy – Suva which sold same quantity and same brand for $1.05. A price difference of 94%.  Island Pharmacy in Ba sold 500mg of 10 Stalmox Amoxicillin tablets at $7.00 while Guardian Angel Pharmacy in Laucala Beach sold the same tablets for $1.85. The percentage price difference here was of 278% which was unfounded.

The table below shows price analysis for individual price for same brand, same batch number, same quantity and expiry dates.

Manufacturers Name

Drug Name

Quantity

Weight

Lowest Price

Highest Price

% difference

Microlab

Frusemide

30

40mg

$0.83

Nadi Chemist

$4.65

Midway Pharmacy- Ba & Chovhan Pharmacy Ltd-Lautoka charged originator brand price for generic medicine.

460%

Not Stated

Arrow-Simvastatin

30

20mg

$5.10

Hyperchem Ba

$15.00 

Patel Pharmacy Sigatoka

194%

Not Stated

Aspirin

15

300mg

$0.60

Mega Care Pharmacy, Holistic Pharmacy, Rewa Pharmacy, Wyse Pharmacy – Valelevu

$2.70

Midway Pharmacy, Ba

350%

Stallion Laboratories Pty Ltd

Stalmox-Amoxicillin

10

500mg

$1.85

Guardian Angel Pharmacy, L/Beach

$7.00

Island Pharmacy, Ba

278%

Apo

Frusemide

30

40mg

$1.35

Nasea Chemist,Labasa

$4.65

Northern Drug Store & Thakorlal Pharmacy-Nadi charged originator brand price for generic medicine.

244%

Flamingo Pharmaceuticals Ltd

Flaminopril

30

10mg

$1.65

Holistic Pharmacy, Suva

$4.00

 Patel Pharmacy, Sigatoka

142%

Pure Pharma Ltd

Pure Pharma

30

500mg

$1.05

Wyse Pharmacy – Valelevu, Mega Care Pharmacy-Makoi, Holistic Pharmacy –

$2.00

AJ Swan

94%

Windlas Biotech Ltd

Winstatin

5

20mg

$3.45

M S Pharmacy Nadi

$10.00

Western Medicare Ltd

190%

Not stated

Arrow

30

20g

$2.95

Budget Pharmacy

$9.45

My chemist, Nasea Chemist & Northern Drug Store

220%

Flamingo Pharmaceutical Ltd India

Flaminopril

30

10g

$1.50

Life Pharmacy Nausori

$5.00

Chovhan Pharmacy, Lautoka

233%

Not Stated

Arrow

30

20g

$3.08

Nadi Chemist

$7.50

Chovahan Pharmacy Lautoka

143.5%

Prawil Laboratories Ltd

Amoxywil

9

500mg

$1.61

Amy Street Pharmacy,

$4.00

Midway Pharmacy, Nadi

148%

Glaxo Smith Kline

GSK

9

500mg

$3.60

MS Pharmacy, Nadi

$7.24

Thakorlal’s Pharmacy, Lautoka

101%

Flamingo Pharmaceutical Ltd India

Flaminopril

30

10g

$1.73

Hyperchem Pharmacy, Ba

$5.00

Midway Pharmacy, Ba

189%

Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd

Invoril

30

10mg

$2.25

Guardian Angel, L/Beach; Wyse Pharmacy, Valelevu

$4.50

Wyse Pharmacy, Nakasi

100%

               

The Council is also baffled at the illogical pricing with extremely high mark-ups on medications of same quantity, batch number and brand despite being under price control.  For example, Midway Pharmacy, Ba sold 15 aspirin tablets of 300mg for $2.70 while Wyse Pharmacy, Nakasi sold 20 Aspirin for $2.25 whereas Health First Pharmacy, Life Pharmacy, Nadi, and Nadi Chemist sold 30 Aspirin for $0.73. Why 15 Aspirin is $2.70 whereas 30 Aspirin is for $0.73?

Similarly, Sugar City Pharmacy, Lautoka sold 15 amoxicillin (Apo) for $3.45 while Chovhan Pharmacy Ltd, Lautoka sold 9 tablets of Amoxicillin (Apo) for $4.00. Also 10 Amoxywil capsules were sold for $2.00 by Hyperchem, Ba where as Midway Pharmacy Ltd sold 9 tablets of Amoxywil for $4.00. Why 9 tablet is costing  ($4.00) two times more the price of 10 ($2.00) Amoxywil ? This is illogical pricing and poor consumers suffer as the result of this. Consumers have to fork out more money.

The Council wants the pharmaceutical sector to explain to the Government – which provides incentives to consumers- for rebutting complains of exorbitant medication prices and requesting for decrease in price.   Despite prescription medicines under price control with maximum percentage mark up of 35%, the Council’s survey reveals very high trade margins. For example, drugs such as Microlab- Frusemide was sold by different pharmacies with 460% price difference; Aspirin  from India was sold with 350% price difference; Arrow brand  Simvastatin tablets sold with 408% price difference are only a tip of the iceberg. Council survey also noted that several pharmacies sold originator brand for maximum profits. No benefit is passed on to the consumer who is forced to pay a very inflated cost, whereas easily they could have been lower, while ensuring reasonable profits to the retailer.

The Council wants this unfair practice curtailed and for consumers to benefit from the Government policies intended to lower the cost of prescription medicines.