Ministry to Publish Price List for Drugs

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THE Ministry of Trade and Industry and by extension the Government plays no role in the decisions taken by the Trinidad and Tobago Fair Trading Commission (TTFTC) in the exercise of its functions.

In a press release on Thursday, the ministry stated that it has taken note of public discussions related to the merger involving firms within the local pharmaceutical industry.

Wholesale distributor of pharmaceutical and personal care products Smith Robertson has acquired 100 per cent of pharmaceutical and medical supplies distributor Oscar Francois, and Intersol Limited.

The TTFTC was an independent statutory agency established pursuant to the Fair Trading Act, 2006, the ministry stated.

And there will soon be publication of some pharmaceutical prices so consumers could be better advised when making purchases.

The ministry stated, “The TTFTC has advised that the review and approval process associated with the particular merger within the local pharmaceutical industry took over four months.

“The commission has further advised that this review process involved consultations with various stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry as the commission needed to be satisfied that the proposed merger transaction would not adversely affect competition and would not be detrimental to consumers or the local economy.”

With the full Proclamation of the Fair Trading Act in February 2020, the TTFTC now has the legislative power on its own initiative, or at the request of any person adversely affected, to take such actions as it considers necessary with respect to the abuse of a monopoly power by any enterprise in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Fair Trading Act creates an institutional framework for the enforcement of competition policy in T&T and addresses major issues including: the abuse of monopoly power, anti-competitive mergers, anti-competitive agreements and the enforcement of the relevant clauses or enforcement measures. Specific anti-competitive practices that are prohibited under the Act include price-fixing, market sharing, collusion, cartels and bid rigging.

The ministry added that it continues to actively pursue measures to safeguard the well-being of consumers of pharmaceuticals and that Cabinet  has recently authorised the ministry to seek approval from the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for the suspension of the Common External Tariff (CET) on a list of 3,947 Pharmaceutical products for the period May 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022.

Concerning the publication of prices, the Ministry stated, “The Minister of Trade and Industry has today instructed the Consumer Affairs Division to develop a mechanism for the monitoring and publishing of quarterly prices of the main essential pharmaceutical items in relevant business establishments throughout T&T which will assist with empowering consumers to make the best purchasing decisions.”

And there was also no link to the intended supply and availability of Covid-19 vaccines to the T&T population with  all vaccines procured by the Government  being consigned directly to the Ministry of Health.



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