Control Of Pharmaceutical Products

Pharmaceutical products are essential commodities in any market as it deals with the well-being of people. These products need to be readily available and accessible to people, particularly in times
05 Mar 2018 10:30
Control Of Pharmaceutical Products
Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission Chief Executive Officer Joel Abraham.

Pharmaceutical products are essential commodities in any market as it deals with the well-being of people.

These products need to be readily available and accessible to people, particularly in times of emergency.

In Fiji, pharmaceutical products market consists of two broad categories-the public sector and private sector.

The public sector is represented by the Fiji Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Supplies Centre (FPBS) while the private sector comprises of importers, wholesalers and retailers of the various medicinal items.

The FPBS imports essential medicinal items in bulk and is the supplier/ distributor to the local public hospitals and health centres. The FPBS also wholesales certain pharmaceutical products to the private pharmacies for retail to consumers.

Importance of Price Control

Given that the cost of certain medicinal products are unnecessarily high, it is imperative to have in place a price control mechanism for essential medicinal items allowing consumers, particularly those on the lower income bracket, to purchase them at affordable prices.

Pharmaceutical products are price controlled under the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) Price Control (Control of Prices for Food Items) Order 2015 ‘Order’.

The Order empowers FCCC to determine the Maximum Wholesale and Retail prices for certain

Essential Pharmaceutical Products.

The control of prices under the FCCC’s jurisdiction has allowed FCCC to ascertain the most appropriate pricing structure for the benefit of both the suppliers and consumers.

While the FCCC recognises that firms operating in the private sector do so in the pursuit of earning reasonable returns on their investments, however, they also have a responsibility to protect consumer interests ensuring that they are not disadvantaged. The effective competition for the supply and pricing of Pharmaceutical items in Fiji will allow consumers to benefit in terms of prices that are not only market driven (i.e. demand and supply) but also reflective of elements of affordability and offers wider choices for all Fijians.

The current price control applies to 75 categories of essential medicinal products and includes generic medicines only, unless generics are not available.

Where generic medicines are not available, the branded medicines are subjected to price control.

In simplicity, the branded medicines are the original medicine discovered and developed by a pharmaceutical company, has a trade name and is protected by a patent (can be produced and sold by the company holding the patent).

Alternatively, the generic medicines are a medication that has the exact same active ingredient as the brand-name drug and yields the same healing effect.

It is the same in dosing, safety, strength, quality, the way it works, the way it is consumed and the way it should be used.

For example; Panadol is a branded medicine and the generic medicine names for Panadol are Tylenol, Aspirin and Herron.

Price controlled pharmaceutical products

Importers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of the price controlled pharmaceutical products must make available for those 75 categories of essential medicinal products and its quantities to the consumers.

However, in the case where the specified products are not available then proportionate prices must be applied to all quantities vide section 50 of the Fijian Competition & Consumer Commission Act 2010.

For example: If the price controlled product is a cough syrup having a 100ml in volume with Maximum Retail Price set at $2.00 and is not available in stock, then any other quantity of the same item that is available must be sold at proportionate price.

For instance, if 110ml of the cough syrup is available and the 100ml is not available, 100ml should be priced as: price of 110ml = (2.00/100) *110 = $2.20

Free Medicine Programme.

The Free Medicine Scheme was launched on 1st January 2015 as part of Governments initiative to ensure equity in terms of accessibility and availability of key medicines in partnership with the private retail pharmacy to citizens earning a gross salary of less than $20,000 per annum.

There are 142 categories of essential medicinal products that are under the free medicine scheme, prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner free of charge from any government hospital pharmacies, dispensary and/ or selected retail pharmacies.

FCCC recognises that improving health is critical to human welfare and essential to sustained economic and social development.

The list of categories for Essential Pharmaceutical Products that are under Price Control are as per table above.


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