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Panic hoarding pushes up medicine prices

16 June 2020


Reza Mahmud :
Unusual hike of medicines and medical equipment prices have created untold sufferings for both Covid and non-Covid patients across the country.
Many of life saving medicines are found out of market due to hoarding of dishonest medicine traders and storing by a section of unaware people.
"Firstly, it is to be noted that there is no authorized medicine by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to treat Covid-19 patients. Now, the physicians are only giving treatment to the coronavirus infected patients as per their symptoms only.
In the other way, we can say it as the symptoms treatment. Some medicines like Remdesivir. Physicians are using Paracetamol to control fever of Covid-19 patients. In this situation, some dishonest medicine traders are hoarding medicines which are prescribed by the doctors for the Covid patients. It worsens the medicine market situation creating untold suffering for all Covid and non-Covid patients," Professor Dr. M. Muzaherul Huq, former Adviser of WHO told The New Nation on Monday.
He said, some panicked and unaware people are storing medicines without doctors, prescriptions which are also reasons of scarcity of such medicines useful for coronavirus patients treatment.
A section of dishonest medicine and medical equipment traders are making this a 'chance to make money' and are increasing prices unusually high.
He urged all not to store medicine because it may not be useful for them.
Patients and doctors said, traders are charging extra prices for every medicine and equipment using for Covid-19 patients' treatment.
They said, when some doctors suggest Covid patients to use 'Napa extend' tablet which is nothing but some milligram added tablet than ordinary napa or paracetamol. But this 'Napa extend' are now out of market. Patients have alleged that normally 10 Napa extend tablets were sold at Tk 15 before the Coronavirus outbreak in the country. But now the traders are selling a strip of 10 tablets at Tk 50 to Tk 60 'on condition of availability'.
Ivermectin 6 to 12 mg tablets are also in the similar condition. The Ivermectin tablets were sold at Tk 5 for five tablets but now are being sold at Tk 15 for the same tablets hiking price for three times.
Doxycycline 100mg capsules are also selling in high price.
Abdul Alim, a coronavirus patient living in Keranigonj, told The New Nation, "As per doctor's prescription I sought Scoba tablet from many shops in Dhaka but it was out of market suddenly. Finally I got it a Mitford medicine shop but price is 20 times high."
"The real price of 10 Scoba tablet was Tk 10 only but I bought it by Tk 200 from the shop due to its scarcity," Abdul Alim said.
Experts said those medicines are not using only Covid patients but also normal fever, cold affected and other patients need these medicines. So ordinary patients are also being victims.
They said not only such medicines, 'POCILUZUMAB' an antibiotic injection, used for serious Covid-19 patients are selling Tk 10,000 per dose.
A patient needs eight doses of this injection which price is Tk 80,000.
A rich patient, recovered from Covid-19 from a Dhanmondi hospital recently,  said, "I have denied to use that antibiotic injection because its price is too high. I know that the costing of those 10 doses injections is barely five thousand taka, but is selling Tk 80,000, why? The government should monitor it strictly to save patients' life and livelihood."
"Patients may not get recover but their homes and other assets must be sold out to bear the cost of medicines," the patients said.
As per the patients allegations and the spotting the market, it was found that a nebulizer machine previously was sold at Tk 1900 but now are selling at Tk 2600.
This machine is very much necessary for infants who are suffering from cold and respiratory problems.
So, the people having children or who are suffering from asthma and other respiratory problems are being victimized of this increasing price.
A patient from Maniknagar in the city alleged that a normal BP machine (blood pressure testing machine) was sold at Tk 600 but it is now selling at Tk 1200.
Besides, an oxygen cylinder normally was sold at Tk 5000 to 6000 but now it is market out and in condition of availability these are selling at Tk 26000 per cylinder.
The oxygen is highly necessary for the Covid and non-Covid patients who are suffering from respiratory problems.
"Firstly they make those medicines out of market by hoarding, then sell those charging extra money when the patients search those desperately," Dr. Mukhles uz Zaman Hero, former Deputy Director of Bangabandhu Sehikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital told The New Nation on Monday.  
He said, patients have widely alleged about the sudden hiking of the price and expressing their deep disappointment over it. The government should monitor it strictly using all of its tools including law enforcers so that the patients can buy their life saving medicines with its real price.
When contacted, DR. Md. Salahuddin Mollah, Consultant (Corona Team) Central Police Hospital told The New Nation, "The patients are being hostage of a section of dishonest traders. The government should play a strict role so that the manufacturers of medicines compel to mention prices and expiry date of every unit of tablet strip, injection ampoule and capsule blister so that no one can sale it charging extra money."
Dr. Salahuddin Mollah said, it is a long time demand to mention medicines manufacturing and expiry dates with its price in every unit but it was ignored. As a result the people of our country are being victims of price hiking every moment.

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