Ministry matters

Price of €8,000 cancer drugs reduced by 77% after ministry intervention

A market intervention by the Department of Consumer Protection revealed that a cancer drug retailed in an ampoule was being sold for almost eight times its retail value, or around €8,000.

The intervention was justified by a market alert sent to the ministry by the Malta Community Chest Fund, which regularly funds expensive cancer drugs for patients who seek its help.

The Department of Inclusion, Voluntary Organizations and Consumer Rights has launched a market inspection through the Malta Competition and Consumer Authority (MCCAA) to investigate the price of cancer drugs.

In about eight EU member states, the bulb sold for between €1,200 and €1,700. The authority even contacted the manufacturer of the cancer drug to inquire about the retail price.

Minister Julia Farrugia-Portelli confirmed to MaltaToday that the MCCAA had questioned the importer, in a bid to clarify the reasoning behind the exorbitant price.

“It is unacceptable that such an abusive price is being charged. The price of what was an €8,000 bulb was later reduced to €1,800 after discussions between our market experts and the importer – this mark-up was all simply infuriating.Through dialogue, the Community Chest Fund could proceed to purchase medications for affected patients at the regular price.

Farrugia-Portelli said her department would remain vigilant on issues regarding consumer protection in drug pricing. “We cannot dictate what the private sector can charge in the market, but there must also be a social conscience when it comes to pricing. Our intervention in such cases is important – we keep an eye on these sectors, especially in these difficult times when price inflation can hurt.