Social activist Lim Mah Hui, one of the conductors of the MyCC study, said Pharmaniaga did not have a monopoly over supply but a virtual monopoly over logistics.
He said the study showed that the margins from the logistics business were thin and that Pharmaniaga’s key performance index was to ensure the drugs could be distributed.
He said prices were affected more by patents held by big multinational companies, but acknowledged there was room for improvement.
“The government is a big purchaser of drugs, but only for the public sector. If you opt for private healthcare, you will pay a lot more for medicines as their margins are higher.”
He said a private hospital recently charged him RM40 per sachet of Fortrans for a colonoscopy. He noted that a box of Fortrans containing four sachets was being sold online for RM60.
“We should look at the Australian system where there is a government body which negotiates with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of the private and public healthcare sectors,” he said.
“This gives the government greater bargaining power. Due to the economies of scale, it can enjoy lower drug prices.
“The big problem is price control, not Pharmaniaga.”