Blood pressure, cancer drug prices inflated - Heart institute

Monday November 05 2018

Dr Peter Lwabi said the cheapest monthly doze for treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, costs Shs30,000 if the disease is detected early. FILE PHOTO

KAMPALA. Uganda Heart Institute (UHI) has said majority of patients suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) die prematurely because pharmacies inflate prices of the recommended drugs making them unaffordable.

“Access to medicine has been costly and we know that when patients are on treatment, it prolongs their lives,” Dr Peter Lwabi, the deputy director of the Uganda Heart Institute, said yesterday during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the institute and Sandoz Pharmaceuticals to support access to cheaper medicine.

“High blood pressure has become common because of changing lifestyles and poor health seeking behaviors,” Dr Lwabi said.
He said the cheapest monthly doze for treating diseases such as cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, costs Shs30,000 if the disease is detected early.

“But if it (the disease) is in advanced stages, treatment begins from Shs300,000 upwards,” he said.
Dr Lwabi’s comments follow revelations by Mr Kinny Nayer, the managing director Surgipharm, that the actual cost of most of the drugs for treating the diseases world over is between one and two dollars (about Shs8,000) although the prices vary because of their uncontrolled importation.

Why the high cost?
“These are good quality drugs made in factories in Europe and Asia and the actual cost for treatment for a month is between one and two dollars but they are expensive because there is no controlled costing,” Mr Nayer said.
He said as local representatives of the factories, they intend to cut down the cost of the drugs to make them affordable and accessible.

“There is need to control the cost to make it affordable for patients by controlling the profit and pricing and we shall do this by importing direct from the manufacturing factories to Uganda so that everybody sells the drugs at a responsible price,” Mr Nayer said.


Asked to comment about the high costs, Ms Margaret Okello, the chairperson of Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance, said most of the patients in the association with a membership of close to 3,000, are struggling to survive.
“Depending on the type of drug you are on, a monthly dose is between Shs300,000 and Shs500,000 for one drug and that is for members within Kampala.

How about those affected who cannot afford to come to the Heart institute?” Ms Okello wondered.
This newspaper visited two pharmacies in Wandegeya, a Kampala suburb, and found pricing of the drugs was different.

Prices of drugs

Drugs                                                                    Friecca Pharmacy                                 First Pharmacy

AMLODIPINE 10MG 100TAB FSA                                 Shs 21,000                                           Shs 21, 000

 AMLODIPINE 5MG 30TAB FSA                                   Shs15,000                                            Shs12,000

ANASTROZOLE AB 1MG 30FCT FSA                            Shs54,000                                            Shs 75,000

BISOPROLOL AB 10MG 100FCT FSA                            Shs18,000                                            Shs24,000

BISOPROLOL AB 2.5MG 30FCT FSA                             Shs12,000                                            Shs24,000

BISOPROLOL AB 5MG 100FCT FSA                              Shs15,000                                            Shs18, 000

GLIMEPIRIDE 1MG 30TAB FSA                                    Shs10,500                                            Shs24,000

GLIMEPIRIDE 2MG 90TAB FSA                                    Shs27,000                                            Shs21,000

GLIMEPIRIDE 4MG 90TAB FSA                                    Shs36,000                                            Shs99,000       

HYDROCHLOROTHIAZIDE 25MG100TABFSA          Shs36,000                                            Shs30,000

LETROZOLE AB 2.5MG 30FCT FSA                              Shs60,000                                            Shs90,000

METFORMIN HCL 1G 60FCT FSA                                 Shs19,500                                            Shs21,000

METFORMIN HCL 500MG 60FCT FSA                           Shs10,500                                            Shs12,000

SIMVASTATIN AB 20MG 30FCT FSA                             Shs24,000                                            Shs45,000

SIMVASTATIN AB 40MG 100FCT FSA                          Shs20,000                                            Shs60,000

VALSARTAN AB 160MG 28FCT FSA                              Shs120,000                                          Shs24,000

VALSARTAN AB 80MG 28FCT FSA                                 Shs90,000                                            Shs60,000

VILDAGLIPTIN AB 50MG 56TAB FSA                            Shs96,000                                            Shs150,000