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Health Ministry Issues New Ruling to Keep Medicine Prices Affordable

Source: Vientiane Times

The Ministry of Health has issued a new regulation, aimed at keeping the price of medicines and medical products reasonable, after an unprecedented surge in prices during the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the pandemic peaked, the price of some items, such as face masks, reached record highs, especially when in short supply. This forced the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to stipulate a fixed price so that face masks were affordable for people on low incomes.

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Health Minister Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith signed a Decision to regulate the sale of medicine and medical products, with fines to be issued if a business has already been given two warnings for violation of the rules.

Businesses that stop, refuse or extend the time to supply or service medication and medical equipment without justifiable cause will be fined between 1-3 million kip for third and subsequent infringements of the Decision.

The 12-page document will come into force in the next 15 days after being posted in the Lao Official Gazette on February 23.

Traders who fail to declare their prices will be fined 1-3 million per infringement, as will those who give a false price or stockpile medicines or medical products.
But those who charge unauthorized prices will be fined more, with fines ranging from 1-5 million kip per infringement.

In addition, traders who sell medical products without a price tag attached will be subject to fines ranging from 500,000 to one million kip, the Decision stated.

In addition to fines, rule-breakers will face a civil or criminal lawsuit.

The new Decision has been issued to regulate the sale price of medicines and medical products, to ensure prices are both standardized and reasonable.

The Decision spells out principles, measures, and regulations with regard to the price of medicines and medical products supplied in Laos, to ensure they are fully available to the general public and are sold at a reasonable price. This will ensure that the legitimate rights and interests of all parties involved are protected.