The State's drug market is likely to witness a “price war” soon, as the newly formed All-Kerala Retail Chemists and Druggists Association has decided to take on the wholesale distributors and the State-run retail outlets, such as the Neethi and the Maveli medical stores.

“Retailers should get drugs at a lower price. The State-sponsored Supplyco buys insulin, a life-saving drug for diabetic patients, at the rate of Rs.60 a vial and sells it through its retail medical outlets at Rs.143. Ironically, the retail druggists in the State get the drug from the wholesale dealers at the rate of Rs.143 a vial and sell it in the price range of Rs.145 to Rs.150.

Unethical practice

Certain retailers even used to sell the drug at the same rate. We want to bring an end to this anomaly and grossly unethical double standards followed by the pharmaceutical companies and distributors,” Alex Varkey, president of the association, says.

Mr. Varkey, along with Thomas Sebastian, secretary of the association, and Thomas Chacko, treasurer, told The Hindu here on Thursday that the association had decided to launch a cooperative society which would open retail drug houses across the State.

He said certain pharma companies provided 2,000 vials of insulin free for every 1,000-vial bulk purchase by major hospitals and wholesale dealerships, which, in turn, made bumper profits out of them.

Even Supplyco was said to have been making huge profits by selling this lifesaving drug purchased at a wholesale rate of Rs.60 a vial at a much higher rate of Rs.143 through its retail Maveli medical stores.

A recent study conducted by International Diabetes Federation shows that India, with 50 million diabetic patients was expected to have nearly nine per cent of its population affected by the condition by 2030.

Mr. Varkey said the association was for a positive change in the pharma retail business in this highly health-conscious State of Kerala by providing drugs to the people at reasonable prices. It was for uniformity in the price of drugs in various parts of the State.

“Strictly adhering to commercial ethics, the association of as many as 14,000 retail druggists and chemists across the State is for taking a profit margin of 15-20 per cent and not more than that. What we need is governmental support in our struggle against certain unethical trade practices in the pharma business,” he said.

C. Sanal of Alappuzha and C.M.K. Kurup of Kochi, office-bearers of the association, are doing the ground work for the proposed cooperative society.

Mr. Varkey said a meeting of the association to be held at Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday would chalk out the future course of action. Those who wished to attend the meeting may call ph: 9447 763801,

Says its shops will not take a profit margin of more than 15-20 per cent.