The Sri Lankan government has announced a massive 40% increase on the prices of a range of essential antibiotics, painkillers and other medicines, as the economic crisis on the island continues.
Sri Lankan MP Nalaka Godahewa told the BBC that the dramatic increase in drug costs is the consequence of most medicines being imported by the private sector, as well as the devaluing of the rupee.
Painkillers, medication for heart conditions, and antibiotics are among the drugs that have been affected by the price increase. In addition to the rising costs, there is also a shortage of medication. Antibiotics for pediatrics, life-saving antibiotics, and steroids are all in short supply.
Healthcare workers have voiced concerns that the increase in cost will cause people to buy less medication than what has been prescribed to them. Previously, doctors warned of a health catastrophe as hospitals were running out of essential drugs and equipment.
In his comments to the BBC, Godahewa added that the government had no choice but to increase prices for essential drugs in order to avoid a serious shortage. "This is not something that government is doing willingly," he said.
On 12 April the Sri Lankan Department of Government Information denied that there was a shortage of medicine and surgical equipment despite numerous reports from hospitals. The Tamil Nadu Assembly recently passed a resolution urging the Union Government to send aid including life-saving drugs to the island. However, actions to carry out this plan have not yet been taken.