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Others    Ministry clamps down on high medicine prices (Mar 16, 2011)

HA NOI — The Drugs Administration of Viet Nam has instructed health departments nationwide to increase inspections of wholesale medicine prices registered with agency as part of the Health Ministry's measures to curb price rises.
The move comes on the heels of a recent inspection by the drug administration which found that a number of businesses had sold medicines at unreasonably high prices or had amended medicine prices without reporting the increases to the ministry.

Health departments were instructed to require pharmaceutical producers and importers to report their registered medicine prices so departments could audit retail prices.

Meanwhile, medicine producers and importers were required to undertake a review of their prices and provide a report to the administration on their medicine price levels and retail sale prices.

Businesses found to have registered unreasonable price medicine rates would be required to adjust their pricing to conform and resubmit them to the administration for consideration.

All reports needed to be submitted to the administration before Friday for consideration.

Many businesses had been found to have increased drug prices, but had escaped punishment because the prices were still within their registered rates, said Chief Inspector of Ha Noi Health Department Nguyen Viet Cuong.

The department has recently reported that the prices of 240 out of 4,000 drug items have increased by between 3 and 30 per cent but about 70 per cent of the drug items were still being sold at retail prices below the registered level.

Director of northern Ha Nam Province's Health Department Nguyen Lap Quyet said the department had co-operated with relevant forces to inspect pharmaceutical businesses in the province, particularly private businesses, following the request from the health ministry.

"Inspecting registered medicine prices is a first step in defining whether businesses are abiding by the registration regulation or not, allowing us to compare the registered price rates and retail prices to uncover over-charging," he said.

"Any businesses found to have made sudden medicine price changes will have their products revoked and their products banned from distribution or even have their business licence revoked depending on the level of infringement."

However, Quyet admitted that inspectors had encountered many difficulties in inspecting medicine prices as it was difficult to check the real sale prices of businesses while the number of inspectors was limited. — VNS

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