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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 43  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 60-63

Medicine prices, availability and affordability in Sri Lanka

1 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayawardenapura, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka
2 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

Correspondence Address:
Uthpali Mannapperuma
Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo
Sri Lanka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0253-7613.75672

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Background : No pricing formula has been implemented from November 2002 to date in Sri Lanka. Therefore, we initiated a study in 2003 to determine the prices, availability and affordability of medicines in the private sector of Sri Lanka in the absence of a price control. Materials and Methods : The World Health Organization/Health Action International methodology was used. The study was conducted in retail pharmacies (Rajya Osu Sala) of State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (semigovernment) and privately owned retail pharmacies (n = 15) in 2003, 2006 and 2009 in a geographical area. Essential medicines (n = 28) were studied and, for each medicine, innovator, most sold generic and cheapest generic were monitored. The medicine's median price was compared with the international reference prices (IRP) to obtain the median price ratio. The daily wage of the lowest-paid government worker was used to calculate affordability. Results : Innovators were five to six-times the IRP at privately owned pharmacies and four to seven-times at the Rajya Osu Sala. The prices of generics were ≤1 the IRP during 6 years in privately owned and Rajya Osu Sala pharmacies. Cheapest generics were high in availability (>80%) throughout the study period. Innovators cost more than a day's wage of the lowest-paid government worker; in contrast, generics were always less than one day's wage. There seems to be no difference in affordability between privately owned or semigovernment pharmacies. Conclusion : In Sri Lanka, generic medicines have effective pricing and are available and affordable. No drastic changes in prices of medicine in the private sector were observed over the 6 years despite removal of price control.


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