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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Are medicines to go up in price?

The Antimonopoly Committee warned Ukrainian medicine market players against unwarranted price hikes
18 October, 2011 - 00:00

The Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine has instructed the ten largest national producers and the ten main wholesale distributors of medications to refrain from actions that can provoke an unwarranted price rise or an artificial shortage of pharmaceutical products, especially during the spread and aggravation of seasonal infectious diseases, the committee’s press service told The Day.

Last year, during the outbreak of flu, prices in Ukrainian drugstores were skyrocketing. Empty shelves resulted in the emergence of counterfeits and speculative supply. The impression is that this year governmental supervisory bodies have taken a more responsible approach to this matter. “The last year’s situation will not be repeated,” Rafael Kuzmin, Deputy Chairman of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, told a pharmaceutical forum. In his words, the committee exercises full control over the wholesale and retail segments of the pharmaceutical market. Kuzmin assured the audience that prices of quite a large number of medicines, especially those of the anti-influenza group, are being monitored extremely closely.

Whether the market players will heed the committee’s advice not to raise medicine prices will be clear in 15 days’ time. The press service said that national producers and distributors of medicines had been given precisely this time span to consider the committee’s recommendations.

Yet Yevhen SOVA, commercial manager of Borshchahivka Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant Ltd, reassured The Day that this fall and winter the Ukrainians are going to buy nationally-made medicines at stable prices. Prices can only rise in force-majeure circumstances, such as an abrupt slump of the hryvnia or a second wave of the world economic crisis. “The eco-nomy is stable, things are OK. Should there be any wide-scale stresses, such as, say a second wave of the financial and economic crisis, we will have to raise prices or, otherwise, to discontinue production. If the hryvnia suddenly collapses tomorrow, how will I be able to buy raw materials?” Sova says.

Yet Sova emphasized that medicine producers were not going to build the risk of force-majeure into the current price of medicines. In his words, the pharmaceutical producer will make a decision to increase the cost of products on the basis of a concrete fact only.

Nor will the feverish demand tempt the producers to “play” with prices. “Speculations on the national medicine market must be foiled by all means. Should an epidemic of flu break out again, we will be selling medicines at the current prices,” Sova says reassuringly. “We will never raise prices for our products without a good reason.”

It will be recalled that a recent poll conducted by the Horshenin Institute among 1,000 Ukrainians showed that the vast majority of the respondents (92.1 percent) are worried about a likely medicine price hike. Only 4.4 percent of those polled remain indifferent to this problem.

By Alla DUBROVYK, The Day