Sun | Jul 3, 2022

MEDICINE PRICE HIKE LOOMS

Freight costs soar by as much as 1,200%

Published:Friday | May 20, 2022 | 12:12 AMKimone Francis/Senior Staff Reporter
Dr Guna Muppuri of Indies Pharma.
Dr Guna Muppuri of Indies Pharma.

Jamaicans are expected to pay higher prices for medication as the pharmaceutical industry reels from skyrocketing freight charges for prescription and non-prescription drugs. Stakeholders have said that the logistical nightmare stemming from the...

Jamaicans are expected to pay higher prices for medication as the pharmaceutical industry reels from skyrocketing freight charges for prescription and non-prescription drugs.

Stakeholders have said that the logistical nightmare stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s months-long invasion of Ukraine continues to have a significant impact on global trade amid worsening delays and other supply-chain woes.

The disruptions have narrowed companies’ margins, making it difficult for them to absorb ballooning operational expenses.

CEO of Indies Pharma Jamaica Limited, Dr Guna Muppuri, has warned that a “perfect storm” is brewing, with sea freight increasing by 400 to 500 per cent and air freight by 1,200 per cent.

The increase in air freight charges has forced Muppuri to resort to shipment by sea, resulting in longer lead times and unpredictable timelines.

“Because of the increased cost, the cost of the medication to patients is going to go up. Not only that, but even the raw material costs have gone up, and this will also impact drug prices to the patient,” Muppuri told The Gleaner.

“Chicken prices have gone up; bread prices have gone up. Pharmaceutical prices are also going to go up. So, we have to get ready and be prepared mentally,” he said.

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica, Dr Winsome Christie, said that incremental increases were not rare in the market but expressed concern that rising oil prices and logistical challenges are threatening to push costs into uncharted waters.

“It is dark times now because of all these issues that we’re having,” she said in a Gleaner interview.

The National Health Fund (NHF), which provides subsidies to Jamaicans in accessing medication in both the public and private health sectors, said that it is bracing for increases in drug prices “due to the myriad of global factors currently at play”.

“Based on our projections, more resources will be required to provide pharmaceuticals and medical sundries for the public health system,” NHF CEO Everton Anderson said without indicating whether he would lobby for more budgetary support for the state agency or improved subsidies to customers.