The Ministry of Health has said that the prices of medicine imported into Maldives, and underwritten by Aasandha, the state’s health scheme, are many times higher than their actual market rates.

The ministry, in its National Medicine Policy (NMP) 2024-2030, said on Sunday that medicines are imported and paid for at three to five times their actual price.

Drugs are expensive not because of economies of scale but because of the unconsidered manner in which they are obtained, the Health Ministry said in the introduction to the policy.

“All crucial decisions, such as determining products to be imported, conditions to be met, and agreement on prices to be imported, are made by a single agency, however, all ongoing expenses are paid by Aasandha, which lacks decision-making authority and the opportunity to choose the best drugs,” the ministry’s statement outlined.

According to the statement, the unconsidered approach and corruption involved in the procurement of medicines is due to lack of transparency. However, Aasandha does not use its power to withhold payment, the ministry noted.

The NMP outlines the next steps to be taken to prevent errors in payment for medicines through Aasandha, one being to revise the list of basic drugs and set maximum prices that the health scheme will pay for.

The maximum prices to be paid for medicines , according to the MNP, will be agreed in consultation with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, and Aasandha. A mechanism will be established for patients to pay any portion above the fixed price and drugs not on the basic list will also be paid for through the mechanism.