Price of Bangladeshi medicines is higher as pharmaceutical companies of the country pay money or give costly gifts to medical practitioners for prescribing their drugs, finds a new research.
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) conducted the research titled "Pharmaceutical Industry of Bangladesh: Prospects and Challenges."
According to the report, drug manufacturing companies sometimes pay the expenditure of doctors' family holiday tours.
The report was unveiled at the two-day Research Almanac 2019 of the BIDS at Hotel Lakeshore in Dhaka on Sunday.
"The manufacturing companies send doctors abroad for participating in international seminars to convince them for prescribing their companies' medicines," said Nazneen Ahmed, a senior research fellow of the BIDS.
"The pharma companies also transfer a big amount of money to the doctors' accounts to persuade them," she added.
The research report shows that Bangladeshi pharmaceutical companies employed around 65 percent of their total manpower as sales and medical representatives to influence the doctors to prescribe their drugs.
They also spent about 30 percent of their annual turnover as samples of their medicines, which are free of cost, says the report.
Nazneen Ahmed, also the lead researcher of the study, said, "The malpractices have a key role in hiking drug prices in the domestic markets."
The report also found that the same generic group of medicines have been sold at different prices in different local markets; in some cases, the price is double.
"The quality of medicines in Bangladesh is still questionable," said Dr Selim Raihan, executive director of South Asian Network on Economic Modeling.
He said a piece of Thai paracetamol tablet is enough to cure fever, but in Bangladesh it needs at least two paracetamols due to poor quality.
The report also cited that some 10 large pharmaceutical companies control about 70 percent of the local market shares.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue, said, "It should be investigated if these companies are manipulating the medicine prices in the local markets."
He also mentioned that the drug administration should monitor the market regularly.
Golam Moazzem said giving costly gifts to doctors is also one kind of bribe, which raises questions about governance in the pharmaceutical business.