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