The Ministry of Health on Wednesday inaugurated the National Medicine Price Committee in Accra to monitor and ensure that the prices of drugs remain stable.

To achieve its mandate, the 22-member Committee is expected to develop pricing guidelines taking into consideration Health Technology Assessment in determining or recommending prices of medicine and other health technologies and market forces.

It was also charged to set and publish maximum sales prices for the public and private sector for all essential medicines, including programme drugs, new and/or expensive single-source products, medicines under patent and other health technologies.

The Committee also has a responsibility to set the maximum reimbursement prices for all medicines retailed within the country and provide price buffering mechanism to protect all stakeholders from undue exposure to price fluctuations as well as associated triggers of such fluctuations.

The Committee chaired by Mr Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, the Deputy Minister of Health, includes representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Revenue Authority, World Health Organisation, Ghana Health Service, Teaching Hospitals, Christian Health Association of Ghana, National Health Insurance Authority, and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana.

It also has representatives from the Ghana Chamber of Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy of the University of Ghana, Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Community Practice Pharmacists Association, Society of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners, Regional Chief Pharmacists and Regional Medical Stores Managers.

Mr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, the Minister of Health said globally, people had been complaining of pricing of medicines and Ghana was no exception, therefore, the government decided to inaugurate the Committee to ensure that medicines were affordable and at a competitive base.

Explaining some of the duties of the Committee, he said: “This includes setting a forex exchange rate to trigger an agreed automatic adjustment of prices of medicines by a certain percentage.”

“If the exchange rate between the Ghana Cedi and major trading currencies depreciate or appreciate up to 10 per cent or more, an automatic adjustment by the same percentage should be applied to keep prices in tandem with exchange rate movement,” he added.

Mr Manu disclosed that a framework to guide the operations of the Committee would be launched soon when the Ministry gets approval.

The Minister advised pharmaceutical industry players, including policymakers, medicine distributors and retailers, to establish good relationships with each other in order to accomplish their goals.

Mr Manu said it was unfortunate how medicines distributed to health facilities were used but suppliers were not paid timely, as monies were not generated from the sale of the drugs.

He said this made suppliers reluctant to keep supplying the facilities with drugs, saying, it was obvious monies generated were being diverted into individual pockets at some of the regional health facilities.

He, therefore, advised service providers at the health facilities to monitor the activities of each other and report any malfeasance to the appropriate authorities for the necessary actions to be taken.

Mr Abban, the Chairman of the Committee, gave the Ministry an assurance of the Committee’s preparedness to help the government to contribute to the achievement of universal health coverage.

“With our background, we promise to work assiduously to help the government to realise its vision of helping to achieve universal health coverage,” he said.