Although the country’s pharmaceutical companies increase the price of many essential drugs every now and then, the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) virtually has no role in this connection. The drug manufacturing companies have recently hiked the price of some essential drugs by up to 50 percent but the DGDA, the only drug regulatory authority of the country, could play no role in this regard. It can determine the price of only 8 percent of the drugs being produced in the country.
According to sources, in 1994, the Ministry of Health authorized the DGDA to determine the price of drugs produced from 117 molecules or raw materials as at that time the country’s pharmaceutical companies would use. The number of raw materials (molecules) for producing drug in the country has reached to 1,400 in last 25 years but the list of 117 molecules has not changed. So, the DGDA can determine the price of only 8 percent of drugs produced in the country. The pharmaceutical companies determine the price of the rest 92 percent drugs. As a result, the government has almost no supervision over the determining of price in the Tk 20,000 crore drug market of the country.
Regarding the recent price hike of some essential drugs, DGDA Director (current duty) Ruhul Amin said, “Many people think that the drug administration determines the price of all drugs that are produced in the country. That is not true. In 1994, the Ministry of Health has authorized the Directorate General of Drug Administration to determine the price of essential drugs produced from 117 molecules. At present the number of molecules that are being used for producing drugs in the country is around 1400. But we can determine the price of the drugs produced from only 117 molecules.”
The company owners determine the price of drugs produced from the rest of the molecules and after determining prices, they inform the drug administration. The companies cannot hike the price of the drugs determined by the DGDA, he added. He further said, “Price of some drugs has been increased. But we have no prerogatives about determining the price of those. We have asked the companies unofficially about the price hiking. They have also replied unofficially that the companies’ production cost has increased as the wage of workers and price of gas and electricity has increased. And so the companies have raised the price of some drugs.”
Asked why the jurisdiction of the DGDA for determining price of drugs has not been extended from 117 in last 25 years, Ruhul Amin said, it is a matter of the policy makers of the high command of the government. The Directorate General of Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare is the Drug Regulatory Authority of the country. This DGDA supervises and implements all prevailing Drug Regulations in the country and regulates all activities related to import, procurement of raw and packing materials, production and import of finished drugs, export, sales, etc., of all kinds of medicines including those of Ayurvedic, Unani, Herbal and Homoeopathic systems drugs and medicines.
At present, there are 47 district offices under the DGDA in the country. All the officers of the DGDA function as "Drug Inspector" in pursuant to the Drug Laws and assist the Licensing Authority to discharging their responsibilities properly. Besides, a number of Committees, such as Drug Control Committee (DCC), Standing Committee for imports of raw materials and finished drugs, Pricing Committee and a number of other relevant Committees, which comprise of experts of different fields, are there to advise Licensing Authority and recommend them about the matters related to drugs and medicines.
But BGDA insiders think that all these activities of the drug administration would be more effective if it could determine the price of all drugs produced in the country.