Govt. postpones setting price ceiling for pharmaceutical drugs amid pushback

Malé, Maldives – The implementation of a price ceiling or a maximum retail price (MRP) for pharmaceutical drugs have been postponed from January 1 to March 1, 2022.

The new amendment to the regulation states that the price ceiling will be set for all the drugs in the Maldives Food and Drugs Authority (MFDA) Essential list, with the full list of medications gazetted starting March 1, 2022.

Further, the MRP must be displayed for public perusal at all pharmacies upon publication on the gazette.

This move is expected to decrease the government expenditure for medicine by MVR 205 million.

Pharmacies that do not follow the MRP will face a fine of MVR 10,000 for first offense, MVR 10,000 to MVR 50,000 for a second offense. A third offense will result in a fine between MVR 50,000 to MVR 100,000.

The Maldives Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Distribution Association raises grave concerns regarding the price ceiling stating that they are not solely responsible for setting prices of drugs and fear that this will lead to a shortage of imported drugs.

The association further details that pharmacies sign long-term agreements with manufacturers for some drugs while others drugs are procured through agreements with Indian and Sri Lankan traders which is not in the control of pharmacies themselves.

Earlier in 2021, Aasandha Company had launched ‘Vinavi’ mobile application through which users can check the exact price of the medicine, in order to manage the prices of medicines being sold in the Maldives.

Commonly known as ‘Aasandha’, Husnuvaa Aasandha is a universal health scheme introduced by the Government of Maldives in February 2014, with the aim of promoting affordable and accessible health care for all Maldivian nationals. Husnuvaa Aasandha – “healthcare for all without a ceiling protection limit” – extends the coverage of the previous national health insurance scheme “Aasandha” and removed the annual cap of MVR 100,000 per person per year of the previous scheme.