VietNamNet Bridge – Stepping out of the Tuan drugstore in District 5, Pham Thi Kham from southern Binh Duong Province lamented that she had paid VND15,000 more for her medicine than only a few weeks ago.
People shop at a drugstore on Ha Noi's Ngoc Khanh Street. Prices have risen by 5-10 per cent for many kinds of drugs. (Photo: VNS)
The drug, Daflon (500 mg) imported from France, had increased in price to VND179,000. "How can I continue to pay for these expensive medicines?" she said.
The drug treats chronic venous insufficiency of the lower limbs, and is a big seller in Viet Nam.
According to staff at one drugstore, a box of Daflon 500mg contains 80 tablets. It is currently selling for VND179,000-VND180,000, an increase of 10 per cent compared to three weeks ago.
Other imported drugs are also increasing in price, the drugstore sales clerk told the Sai Gon Giai Phong newspaper.
Medicine at another drugstore nearby was also selling for higher prices, including drugs like Telfast HD 180mg and Fastum Gel.
At the To Hien Thanh wholesale drug market in District 10, owners of many drugstores said that pharmaceutical distributors were announcing prices of drugs around the same time via phone to avoid inspections by the authorities.
A patient, Tran Thanh Ha of Phu Nhuan District, said a doctor had prescribed Phosphalugel for stomach pain, but the price had increased by VND7,500 in one week.
Most price hikes have occurred on antibiotics, vitamins and specialised drugs, according to drugstores.
The Viet Nam Pharmaceutical Manuafacturing and Trading Association also acknowledged that prices had risen by 5-10 per cent for many kind of drugs, especially imported ones.
The city's programme to stabilise prices of essential medicines covers only locally made medicine.
Companies taking part in the programme say their revenue remained modest after two months of promoting their drugs to hospitals and drugstores.
Tu Phuong drugstore, which takes part in the programme, said the drugs covered under the programme were manufactured at factories that meet GMP-WHO certification. They include antibiotics, eye drops, and drugs for pain and fever, allergies, diarrhea, cough, stomachache, heart disease and diabetes.
Their prices are much cheaper compared to similar imported drugs or drugs produced by foreign pharmaceutical companies in Viet Nam.
For instance, Paracetamol 500mg produced by FT Pharma Pharmaceutical Joint-Stock Company costs only VND216 for a tablet, while the one made by Sanofi-Aventis sells for VND245 a tablet.
The price of Ladovax, a heart medicine produced by local Euvipharm Pharmaceutical JS Company, costs only VND7,900 a tablet, but Plavix produced by Sanofi-Aventis costs up to VND20,790.
Imported drug prices have increased many times since the beginning of the year, a director of a pharmaceutical company said.
Foreign pharmaceutical distributors often did not disclose their plans to increase drug prices so authorised agencies found it difficult to discover the changes, said Huynh Thi Lan, general director of Mekophar Chemical Pharmaceutical Company.
Pham Khanh Phong Lan, deputy director of the HCM City Health Department, said the city would strictly punish pharmaceutical companies and distributors that raise prices unlawfully.
She said her department had asked medical inspectors to conduct investigations to uncover violations.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News