Cost of medicine to go up next month
BY M. KRISHNAMOORTHY
PETALING JAYA: Medicine and prescription drugs may cost as much as 50 sen more per packet or bottle from next month.
The increase is due to a Health Ministry directive for all packaging of pharmaceuticals and traditional medicines to have security holograms to curb counterfeits.
Industry sources say the cost of equipment, logistics and labour to stick holograms on every pharmaceutical item will most likely be passed on to the consumer.
The Health Ministry's Pharmaceutical Services director, Datuk Mohd Zin Che Awang, confirmed that, from May 1, all pharmaceuticals sold must have the hologram.
"This is to eliminate counterfeits from the market. More than RM27mil worth of fake pharmaceuticals were confiscated last year.
"The Government wants to protect consumers from fake and unregistered medicinal products.
"We have to impose hologram labelling, similar to that used on VCDs, to prove originality; even the product registration number printed on the packaging can be forged,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Several pharmaceutical groups and associations have objected to the ruling, saying that when it was tried in several countries, there were difficulties in its implementation.
The Federation of Chinese Physicians and Medicine
Dealers Association Malaysia and eight pharmaceutical groups had expressed their grievances to the Health Ministry through several memorandums.
The federation's adviser, Lim Heng Moh, said it would be a big problem, and extra work, which may see the price of medicine increase by 30 sen to 50 sen per packet or bottle from June.
"If there are fakes in the market, the affected companies should take individual action. Consumers are also intelligent enough to spot fakes. It is not fair to impose the ruling.
"The hologram is not a foolproof way to fight fakes. Even the holograms on VCDs have been counterfeited," he said.
For the list of products that need to have the hologram stickers, visit www.bpfk.gov.my.