Kathmandu, October 23
Former health minister and CPN-UML lawmaker Dr Bansidhar Mishra accused the government of promoting black marketing of drugs.
Speaking at a programme ‘A Discussion on Black Marketing in Medical Sector’ today,Dr Mishra said, “The black market for medicines and drugs has been thriving for decades, but we have not been able to end it because of political instability.”
Dr Mishra further said that although black marketeers were being prosecuted occasionally, black marketing of drugs had been thriving.
Similarly, Secretary of the Naya Shakti Party Navaraj Subedi said, “There is no standard price for medicines. There are cases where patients have paid more than a hundred times the actual price of a medicine.”
Only 12 per cent of the medicine in the market are produced in the country, while 88 per cent are imported from other countries. General Secretary of the Association of Pharmaceutical Producers of Nepal Hari Prashad Bidari maintained that corrupt government officials were responsible for black marketing of drugs. He added, “We price medicines with a 16 per cent margin on the government-declared MRP.”
According to a survey report prepared by Prarabdha Media Group, the black market for medicines makes approximately Rs 30 billion a year, of which Rs 1 billion is from blood pressure and diabetic patients alone.
The report also claims that the Teaching Hospital, affiliated to Tribhuvan University, operates a black market for medicines within the hospital. Medicines tendered at 14 paisa are sold at Rs 1.70 in the market.
An advocate Binod Mani Bhattarai said, “Every pharmacy sets its own price on medicines, regardless of the tender price.”
As per Consumer Protection Act-1998, any medicine vendor known to be selling medicine at more than 20 times the tender price is punishable by law. The guilty can be imprisoned for 5 years, or can be liable to a fine, or both.
A version of this article appears in print on October 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.