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NEWS | Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Over-priced medicines: who’s paying for the abuse?

Diabetes tablets over-priced by 38%

Official investigations have led to a forced reduction in the price of seven more medicines, suggesting that some pharmaceutical companies and medicines importers may have had it good for quite a while.
After the forced reduction in the price of 38 medicinals last year the Consumer and Competition Division yesterday published a further list of seven more medicines whose selling price was higher than the European level.
The price reductions announced yesterday range from a mere three per cent to a whopping 38 per cent for a drug used by diabetes patients.
A packet of 20 Daonil 5mg tablets, which are used by diabetes patients, used to sell at €4.75 deemed to be 38 per cent higher than the average European level. The price of these tablets has now been revised downwards to €2.94.
The market authorisation granted by the Medicines Authority for Daonil rests with Aventis Pharma (Greece).
However, the press statement issued by the Ministry for Competitiveness under whose wing falls the Consumer and Competition Division made absolutely no reference to the market authorisation holders or importers who represent the foreign companies.
Similar hefty price hikes could be noted for Buscopan 10mg tablets used to treat symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome among others. These tablets were found to be selling 23 per cent higher than the European average.
A nebuliser solution, Atrovent 2ml, used in the treatment of asthma patients was also found to be selling in Malta at 21 per cent higher than the average price on the continent.
The Consumer and Competition Division carries out price comparison exercises between selling prices in Malta and the average price in Europe based on a basket of countries agreed upon by the Medicines Committee.
Where the prices of medicines are found to be higher than the average price meetings are held with the importers during which the findings of the Division are explained to them.
Importers are asked to lower prices unless they can justify the current price levels. Most importers claim that in most cases local selling prices depended on the price at which they were buying from their foreign sources.
Until now Government has declined to publish the names of the importers and the market authorisation holders for those medicines that were over-priced. It is possible to find out who the market authorisation holder is from the website of the Medicines Authority. MaltaToday Midweek is publishing the names of the pharmaceutical companies that are authorised to market in Malta the seven over-priced medicines made public yesterday.

Medicine price reductions

Plavix 75mg x 28tabs
Blood thinning medicine usually prescribed to people who have had a heart condition, stroke or angina.
Price reduction: -8% from €66.06 to €60.52.

Daonil 5mg x 20tabs
Tablets used by diabetes patients.
Market authorisation: Aventis Pharma (Greece)
Price reduction: -38% from €4.75 to €2.94

Celebrex 100mg x 60
Medication used for symptomatic relief in the treatment of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Market authorisation: Pfizer Hellas (SA) Greece
Price reduction: -3% from €35.22 to €34.01

Lamisil 250mg x 14
Medication used for the treatment of fungal infections of the skin.
Market authorisation: Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK
Price reduction: -16% from €43.49 to €36.59

Atrovent 2ml x 20 vials
Nebuliser solution generally used to treat asthma patients.
Market authorisation: Boehringer Ingelheim Limited UK
Price reduction: -21% from €20.08 to €15.89

Efexor
Efexor is indicated for the treatment of depressive illness.
Market authorisation: Wyeth Laboratories UK
Price reduction:
37.5mg x 56 tabs: -4% from €52.85 to €50.69
75mg x 56 tabs: -4% from €89.03 to €85.39
75mg x 28 tabs: -4% from €41.74 to €40.04

Buscopan 10mg x 56 tabs
Medication used to treat spasms of the gastro-intestinal tract and symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Market authorisation: Boehringer Ingelheim Limited UK
Price reduction: -23% from €12.07 to €9.25

 


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