Council audit finds high prices

THE Consumer Council of Fiji is urging customers to conduct comparative shopping to ensure they get the vaccines for meningococcal C at the best deal possible.

In a statement released yesterday, the council said it was aware of the high prices of meningococcal vaccines sold in pharmacies around the country and have conducted a snap survey to help consumers make informed decisions.

“There are two types of vaccines — monovalent and quadrivalent. Monovalent vaccine is to immunise against a single antigen while quadrivalent vaccine protects against four strains of the disease.

“There are three brands of the quadrivalent vaccine available for retail in the 20 pharmacies surveyed. These are menactra, menveo and nimenrix.

In their survey, the council said the cheapest prices of vaccines were available at a Western Division based pharmacy in Ba selling nimenrix at $180.

According to the council, the prices of the vaccines available in the Western Division ranged from $180 to $365.

In Labasa, the council said some pharmacies were charging additional costs for freight.

“In light of this the council urges consumers in Labasa to question whether the vaccine price is inclusive of freight, before finalising purchase. Generally the price of vaccine ranged from $245-$255.

The council said the survey also found that pharmacies in the Suva and Nausori corridor were the most expensive.

“The vaccines were generally sold from $240-$245.”

The council said majority of the pharmacies had the vaccine out of stock and only supplied when an order was placed.

“Further to this there were four local wholesalers identified in the Western Division supplying stocks of the vaccine to most pharmacies across the country. The council is also appalled to note that retail pharmacies are making as much as 70 to 80 per cent profit from the vaccine sales with no consideration of the severity of the disease and its impacts on consumers. The price hike places the product out of reach for average consumers.”