Pharmacists are warning of rising medical supply prices following a recent upgrade of medical supply manufacturer standards by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the climbing costs of source materials.
Major medical supply company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced a 23 percent price increase, or NT$20 (US$0.65), on 10-tablet boxes of Panadol, one of the most common and popular painkillers in Taiwan.
GSK also announced a 7 percent, or NT$10, increase for Panadol Extra, bringing it from NT$135 to NT$145 a box.
GSK said the adjustment in price was prompted by an increase of crude oil prices and human resource costs in Malaysia.
The Food and Drugs Agency’s (FDA) recent upgrade of medical manufacturers’ standards to the international standard PIC/S GMP caused many manufacturers to upgrade their facilities, and the overhead was reflected in the prices, pharmacist Kao Chi-feng (高啟峰) said.
PIC/S was established in November 1995 in parallel with the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention, which was founded in 1970. The PIC/S is an effort to promote public health through inspection authorities across different fields, as well as setting up platforms for information exchange.
Pointing to magnesium oxide, used as an antacid or short-term laxative, as an example, Kao said that pharmacies were buying magnesium oxide at a higher price, which means an increase in retail prices.
If prices continue to rise, medical supply expenditure for the average person, estimated at NT$100 per day, may go up to NT$120 a day, Kao said.
Other factories are adjusting their production lines because they are unable to meet the new FDA standards. The adjustments are causing a shortage of enema, Kao said.
Another pharmacist said that glycerin-based enemas had also seen a NT$5 increase to the base price of NT$20 to NT$35.
Mentholatum was also seeing a price increase next month due to the increase of prices for mint oils, Kao said.
Mentholatum Taiwan confirmed the price increases, an average of 8 percent, with the small packages rising from NT$60 to NT$65, the medium-sized packages rising from NT$120 to NT$130 and the large packages rising from NT$185 to NT$200.
Meanwhile, pharmacists said that some middlemen were adjusting the prices for imported lip balm made by Mentholatum Co, leading to an increase of NT$5 on other lip balm products.
Pharmacists also said that products that used mint oils were all going to see an increase in pricing.
Pharmacist Ko Ming-tao (柯明道) said locally produced medication using the same ingredients as Panadol, which is made mostly from acetaminophen, cost only NT$1 per tablet, but said branding guided the decisions of the typical Taiwanese consumer.
Additional reporting by Wei Yi-chia