Rising foreign currency prices drive soaring costs of foreign medicines

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The photo of some people purchasing medications at a Yangon pharmacy.

Consumers have reported that foreign medicine prices are increasing due to the rise in the price of foreign currency, particularly the US dollar. When the value of the US currency increases, it leads to higher prices for all imports, including fuel oil, edible oil, and other consumer goods. In the last week of July, the prices of foreign medicines doubled.
The impact is not limited to just fuel oil and consumer goods, which need to be imported from abroad, but also affects the domestic gold price, which has reached a record high due to the global surge in gold prices, as per reports from the pharmaceutical market.
The situation poses challenges for medicine retailers who have to buy medicines and medical equipment from abroad in dollars. They are compelled to sell the products based on currency fluctuations, leading to difficulties in reselling due to the drastic price changes. Ko Min Min, a medicine retailer, shared that some medicines are no longer available in the market, and if they have to buy them again, the buying price is significantly higher than their selling price, making it inconvenient to buy and sell medicines. Within the domestic medicine market, prices for medicines related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes have risen by 15 to 20 per cent. This price surge has created difficulties for patients who need these medicines, as the costs have significantly increased. For instance, Daw Thiri Swe, a resident of Thingangyun township, stated that the cost of medicines has risen from K100,000 per month to about K200,000 per month.
The Ministry of Commerce reported that between 1 and 30 June, about 1,900 tonnes of medicines worth US$34.741 million were imported through maritime trade. Between 15 and 21 July, about 300 tonnes of medicines worth US$7.245 million were imported through maritime trade. – TWA/MKKS

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