7 phar­mas un­der probe

> Firms ac­cused of form­ing car­tel to mo­nop­o­lise drug mar­ket


KUALA LUMPUR: Seven phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by the Malaysia Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion (MyCC) for al­leged an­ti­com­pet­i­tive agree­ments and abuse of dom­i­nant po­si­tions in the sec­tor.

Com­pa­nies can dis­tort com­pe­ti­tion by co­op­er­at­ing with com­peti­tors, fix­ing prices or di­vid­ing the mar­ket up so that each one has a mo­nop­oly in part of the mar­ket. Anti-com­pet­i­tive agree­ments can be open or se­cret (e.g. car­tels).

Abuse of a dom­i­nant po­si­tion oc­curs when a dom­i­nant firm in a mar­ket, or a dom­i­nant group of firms, en­gages in con­duct that is in­tended to elim­i­nate or dis­ci­pline a com­peti­tor or to de­ter fu­ture en­try by new com­peti­tors, with the re­sult that com­pe­ti­tion is pre­vented or less­ened sub­stan­tially.

MyCC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Datuk Abu Samah Shabudin ( pix) yes­ter­day said the investigation is be­ing con­ducted to­gether with the Health Min­istry.

He said the firms are part of the 13 cases and 11 com­plaints re­ceived thus far.

MyCC has found, among oth­ers, that:

some med­i­cal whole­salers charge dif­fer­ent prices for dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers for the same drug;

an at­tempt to mo­nop­o­lise medicine sup­ply by both lo­cal and for­eign phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal firms.

He said “abuse” in pric­ing ex­isted be­cause there is no fixed price for medicines sold to sup­pli­ers.

Ear­lier in his open­ing speech at a fo­rum on com­pe­ti­tion law in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tor, Do­mes­tic Trade, Co­op­er­a­tives and Con­sumerism Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Hamzah Zain­udin said he no­ticed that prices of medicines in the pri­vate sec­tor are un­reg­u­lated and wholly de­pen­dent on mar­ket forces.

“With­out gov­ern­ment con­trol, man­u­fac­tur­ers, dis­trib­u­tors, and re­tail­ers set medicine prices. Nu­mer­ous stud­ies have es­tab­lished that Malaysians pay very high prices for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs in the pri­vate sec­tor, turn­ing Malaysia into a ‘high price is­land’ for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals.

“I be­lieve the time has come for MyCC to not only reg­u­late the com­pe­ti­tion as­pect of the law, but also play a sup­port­ive role to achieve the ob­jec­tive of af­ford­able med­i­ca­tion,” he said.

PT3 can­di­date Siti Athi­rah Wa­hab, who is vis­ually im­paired, us­ing a braille ma­chine to an­swer her test ques­tions at SMK Bukit Be­sar in Kuala Tereng­ganu. Some 20,827 can­di­dates are sit­ting for the ex­ams in Tereng­ganu alone.

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