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Pharm companies in Ukraine raised their prices for medical products by up to 300%

Patient and anti-corruption organizations are calling on pharm companies not to sell medical products to Ukraine at the price of gold, and to decrease the prices instead to the level as 2013.

When envelopes were opened up during tender procedures, it appeared that the prices were substantially raised by pharm companies without any grounds.

For example, medical products for children’s’ oncology were raised by 40%-60%, and in some cases, such as purchases of pediatric hemodialysis treatments, the prices were raised by up to 300%.

For this very reason, civil activists brought to the press conference the pills painted into gold in order to demonstrate that pharm companies are trying to sell the pills to the country at the price of gold. These pills will also be sent to pharm companies in the West in order to congratulate them as winners of the Highest Price award.

“Instead of making step toward Ukraine and sell medical products at so called ‘social’ price, pharm companies have decided to to make money on our misfortune and war, and have raised their prices on certain medical products by up to 300%, selling pills at the price of gold,” said Dmytro Sherembey, the head of charitable foundation ‘Patients of Ukraine.’“It is unbelievable that thousands of Ukrainian patients may die because of the greed of businessmen running pharm companies. This is why we fight for the decrease in prices for medical products in Ukraine and hope that they will at least be average for the region.”

Legal consultants also support the words of activists, stating that the prices are too high and were raised without proper justification. “We have compared prices for the same medical products in neighboring countries such as Moldova, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. The very same medical products cost ten times less there,” says Olena Scherban, legal consultant from the Anti-Corruption Action Center. “Such a drastic increase in prices gives us grounds to file claim with Anti-Monopoly Committee about a possible conspiracy among pharm companies and the imitation of competition for the sake of unbelievable monetary gain,” she added.

Every year the Ministry of Health procures medical products necessary for treatment of deadly diseases based on 18 treatment programs that exist within the country. These diseases include cancer, hepatitis, hemophilia, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, etc. However, the initial budget deficit, medical payments and constant growth of dollar and euro leave Ukrainian patients no chance for life.

In April, ‘Patients of Ukraine’ held a round table in which they called on pharm companies to consider the current situation of the country and to not raise prices for their products.

Nevertheless, most companies have not just raised the prices to the inflation level, they have actually doubled or even tripled their prices. Most companies explained the price hike by the absence of necessary procedures, inflation, etc. However, the experience of the largest international companies such as Abbvie or Glaxo Smith Klein have demonstrated that decrease in prices is possible. And these very companies came to tenders with the prices of previous year.

To bring the outrageous situation to the attention of the international community, Ukrainian activists sent open letters to all central offices of pharm companies, calling on them to exert influence on their Ukrainian branches and asking them to revise their prices. They also recorded video address of parents whose children suffer from cancer, asking pharm companies not to kill their children with their pricing policy. Copies of these letters were also sent to international patients’ rights organizations, the UN, WHO, etc.

To make situation even more clear, the activists developed their rating of the 8 greediest pharm companies. The list includes the companies MSD, Astellas, Novartis, Medac, Baxter, Lumier-Pharma, Janssen, and Ukraine’s ‘Darnitsya.’

“The procurement of medical products for HIV-positive Ukrainians demonstrated that decrease in prices for medical products is possible,” said Volodymyr Zhovtyak, the head of coordination committee of charitable foundation ‘All Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.’ “However, it is only possible to do in the area where there is a strong patient community which realizes that they actually control the situation. The very same companies, however, that offer medical products for other diseases, including children’s diseases, came to tenders with drastically increased prices. We cannot stand aside this outrageous situation and will fight for the price decrease in medical products for all patients of Ukraine,”he added.

Patients’ organizations are very much concerned about the order of MOH from July 7, 2014, which has been to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval. The order is titled ‘Amendments to the use of costs foreseen in county budget for implementation of programs and centralized actions.’ It allows for a price increase of up to 53%, which would automatically decrease the quantity of medical products provided in Ukraine, and therefore the number of human lives saved, by almost two fold.