Sri Lanka has derived a sure-fire formula for reducing drug prices and curbing the nation's medicine import bill. At a recent seminar, health experts recommended that the island nation import only about 500 essential drugs instead of the more than 8000 currently allowed into the country.
The specialists averred that drug prices could be lowered for the common consumer by importing generic versions or low-cost substitutes of essential drugs. The managing director of State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC), K U Kamalgoda, assured the gathering that he would cut the prices of essential drugs by about 50 per cent. He sought to dispel fears that the less expensive drugs would be of lower quality, and highlighted the rigorous testing process employed by his company. Kamalgoda also revealed that SPC was entering into joint ventures with foreign companies to reduce productions costs and further lower the prices of essential drugs.
The Asia-Pacific coordinator for the non-profit organisation Health Action International, K Balasubramanium, however, complained that even though the prices of SPC-produced drugs were relatively low, consumers were not aware of this fact due to the company's poor marketing efforts.
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