HCM CITY — A deputy head of the HCM City Department of Health has called on the National Assembly and Government to improve monitoring of medicine prices and crack down on price gougers.
A customer at a drugstore in HCM City. The city's Health Department has urged the National Assembly and Government to tighten controls on the cost of medicines and crack down on price gougers. — VNA/VNS Photo The Anh
Pham Khanh Phong Lan, who spoke to lawmakers at a meeting, blamed price rises on the large number of layers of intermediaries in the pharmaceutical industry and doctors who are offered commissions to prescribe drugs.
Truong Quoc Cuong, head of the Pharmaceutical Administration of Viet Nam, admitted there were many shortcomings in managing drug prices – such as a shortage of inspectors, lenient penalties for violators, and violations in the drug purchase process for the public health system.
While the tender process for buying medicines for public hospitals was aimed at ensuring the lowest prices, inspections had found that they had been procured at up 6.5 per cent higher than market prices, he said.
Some lawmakers said the nexus between doctors and drug companies, with the latter paying commissions, was the main reason for the rise in drug prices.
Le Van Truyen of the NA's Social Affairs Committee blamed the hikes on the overwhelming dependence on imports of drugs as well as raw materials.
Nguyen Van Tien, deputy chairman of the committee, who had urged the Government a few months ago to control the prices of some 500 essential drugs out of around 22,000 sold in the market, promised to report the opinions expressed at the meeting to the NA.
A recent survey by the World Health Organisation found that medicine prices in Viet Nam were up to 40 times higher than in many other countries.
It studied the prices of seven commonly used groups of medicines made by the same manufacturers in the various countries. — VNS