“Criminal” says NFP

The National Federation Party claims a particular pharmacy in the Central Division purchased Meningococcal vaccines for $150 each from a pharmacy in the Western Division and retailed each vial of vaccine for $325 when the outbreak of the deadly disease was first made public.

NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad described this is criminal saying this is not the first time a pharmacy in the country has exorbitantly overcharged people and taken advantage of the fact that many medications like Meningococcal vaccine are not under price control.

“The prices for the vaccine vary depending on which pharmacy one buys or orders the drug from. Most prices range between $150 to $220. But certainly not $325. How can a pharmacy purchase the vaccine locally for $150 and then sell it for $325 at a mark-up of well over 100%?

“This is a serious issue. We have the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) investigating the issue but this not enough. We had a similar case in 2016 following the outbreak of Conjunctivitis (Cika) where a particular pharmaceutical chain was selling Chloramphenicol eye drops for $17 when others were retailing it for just over $6”.

“At that time nothing happened. We wonder why? Is it because the owner of the pharmacy was a staunch Fiji First financial supporter?”

“If the pharmacy in question this time happens to be a Fiji First supporter and donor, will the FCCC take the necessary action?” Professor Prasad asked

“We are also concerned about the Health Ministry’s abysmal failure to inform pharmacies and people on the safekeeping and administration of the vaccine”.

“Like many other drugs Meningococcal vaccines have to be stored at a temperature of between 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius. We wonder if people who have purchased the vaccines from retail pharmacies were advised of this and given the vaccine wrapped in ice packs only to be taken out immediately before being administered”.

“Because if this wasn’t and isn’t being done then it is a huge waste of money because the vaccine becomes useless”.

The NFP Leader said the Health Minister and the Ministry should “wake up from their stupor” and decisively deal with issues related to the outbreak of Meningococcal.