THE rise in the US dollar exchange
rate against Myanmar’s
currency has hiked up the price
of imported medicines, yet drugs
are being sold at rates lower than
the prevailing price levels, said U
Zaw Moe Khaing, Chair of Myanmar
Pharmaceuticals and Medical
Association and chair and CEO
of AA Medical Products Ltd.
“We have asked pharmacies,
as well as importers, to see to it
that customers benefit. They are
voluntarily complying with our
request. The rise in drug prices
is reasonable, compared with
the appreciation in the exchange
rate. For example, the percentage
of drug costs is significantly
lower than the rate of the high
exchange rate in May and October,
with the exception of some
pharmacies raising prices for
out-of-stock drugs,” he added.
Starting mid-July, the dollar
exchange rate has remained
above Ks1,400. It gradually rose
to touch a record high of Ks1,640
per dollar. Now, it is fluctuating
The distributors of pharmaceuticals raised drug prices by five per cent when the dollar exchange rate rose sharply. About 85 per cent of medicines in the domestic market are imported. Their prices are directly linked to the dollar exchange rate. High drug prices, attributed to the volatile currency market, have embittered the public.
Drug importers and pharmacies are also facing difficulties. If the floating dollar exchange rate spirals out of control, the small and medium entrepreneurs operating in the medical sector will not be able to survive, in the long run, said U Zaw Moe Khaing.
At present, the medical retail price is up by 10 per cent. However, the wholesale market has seen a 30-per-cent increase, depending on the class of medicine. “Medicine prices are pretty high. The prices vary, depending on the class of medicine. Some drug prices have risen sharply, while others have witnessed a slight increase. I cannot even purchase some medicines. I am not sure whether this is because importers are factoring in the higher dollar rate or they have run out of stock,” said U Ohm Myint, owner of a pharmacy in Mayangon Township.
With the rise in exchange rates, most importers are now accepting orders only upon complete payment. Earlier, they were allowing arrears of up to one month. Some buyers are finding this difficult, as they are unable to make a full payment immediately, and trading with full payment has decreased, added U Zaw Moe Khaing.
“We do not control the market. But some misunderstand that, owing to the decrease in trading with full payment,” he said.
The appreciating dollar exchange rate has hiked prices of fundamental items, including medicines.
To regulate the dollar rate, the government is holding weekly discussions with the Central Bank of Myanmar, the Ministry of Planning and Finance, and the Ministry of Commerce. It also selling dollars to private banks and scrutinizing currency manipulation.