Drug Buying Soars Due to Price Hike Fears

A pharmacy on Ngoc Khanh Street and another on Lang Ha Street, Ha Noi were crowded with buyers yesterday, many of whom bought in large quantities and without prescriptions.

Antibiotics, restorative drugs, and flu remedies are selling fast because buyers fear that a price hike is imminent, according to vendor Nguyen Duc Trung. Diamicarov (for diabetes) has gone from VND 115,000 (US$7) to VND125,000 dong (US$8), Zinat has gone from VND120,000 (US$7.50) to VND127,000 (US$8), Cladsu has gone from VND102,000 (US$6) to VND110,000 (US$6.50), and Tardyferon (for pregnant women) has gone from VND67,000 ($4) to VND76,000 (US$4.80).

The price of Aslem for treating breast cancer is soaring along with other commonly prescribed medicines
Moreover, a prolonged cold spell expected to hit northern Viet Nam in March may lead to a flu outbreak.

The increased prices are due both to shortages and to a rise in the price of raw materials, some experts explained.

The prices of some drugs, including nationally-made and imported medicines, have gone up by 3 to 15 percent, according to the Pharmaceutical Management Bureau. And further price increases are expected in March.

Even the prices of domestic antibiotics may soar because they use ingredients which are made in foreign countries.

Other reasons for the price increases include higher costs of transportation, fuel, goods and labor, as well as the devaluation of the U.S. dollar.

The drug Aslem, a breast cancer treatment, had been sold for VND100,000 (US$6) a box since it was first released five to six months ago. This week the price soared to VND290,000 (US$18) a box due to soaring demand which resulted in a shortage.

However, the wholesale price remains is now VND250,000 (US$15.60), according to a representative of Vinh Phuc Pharmaceutical Co., which distributes the drug.

To ensure that the actual properties of the various drugs match the information officially registered, health officials announced that they will check the drug.

By Q.Lap, Kh.Nguyen - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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