The price of Panadol products at pharmacies across the country has increased. President of the Pharmacy Board Andrew Rahaman said this was because of a price increase by the manufacturer and wholesaler.
GlaxoSmithKline manufactures Panadol and Smith Robertson & Company Limited sells to pharmacies.
On January 1, GSK sent a letter to pharmacies notifying owners about a six per cent price increase.
The letter said this was due to the Ministry of Trade’s exemption removal of Common External Tariff in April 2020.
The company said it has been footing the 15 per cent tax cost from May to December of that year and couldn’t any more.
But Rahaman is not sure if he believes GSK as he said he was not sure if the price increase came from the parent company.
“We kind always am (sic) wondering whether it is they just indiscriminately increasing prices because there is no regulation for them,” Rahman said.
The Pharmacy Board president said for transparency there should be price control regulations for wholesales, as he said this was an issue drug store owners have been dealing with for almost a decade and is only being recognised now because Panadol is a popular drug.
“For years and years we just get a letter from these companies saying the prices on these items will be going up,” he said.
“We as the pharmacists bear the brunt of a lot of quarrelling from customers who are of the opinion that we are raising our prices but we have a fixed mark-up,” he continued.
Rahaman said pharmacies by law are allowed to mark up their prices by 35 per cent on non-prescription drugs, 30 per cent on prescription drugs and 25 per cent on chronic disease medication, but wholesalers are not regulated.
“The people who indiscriminately raise their prices are the wholesalers,” he added.
“There are many items in pharmacies that have catapulted up,” he continued.
Rahaman is calling for the intervention of Government on this matter but the Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he had no comment on the issue as it was out of his purview, but he added that there were alternative drugs.
Last Wednesday, the cost for a box Panadol Extra Strength at a Port-of-Spain pharmacy was $24.95, five dollars more than it was the week before. This price was after the pharmacy’s 35 per cent legal mark up.
According to one retailer, the six per cent increase caused the cost of Panadol Extra Strength to increase from $18.49 a box to $19.04.
This increase has been issued to other Panadol products such as Panadol Ultra, Panadol Multi-symptom, Panadol Allergy and Sinus and Women’s Panadol.
Another product according to pharmacists that raised was Jamieson multivitamins, which at the end of last year was $135 and is now $140 per bottle.
Rahaman said stakeholders don’t really get an opportunity to meet but it was time for regulation.
He was working on gathering information on how much drug prices have increased in the last five years as he believes it has doubled for some medication.