The private drug importers are now agitating against the government. The reason for their anger is the government's recent decision to import medicines from abroad on its own. The medicines imported thus would be distributed to the needy patients at cheaper prices from the pharmacies set up at government hospitals. Clearly, the government's decision has come as a blow to the private drug importers, spurring them to protest the decision. The government's step to procure medicines on its own and then provide them to the patients at lower price will certainly prove detrimental to the interests of the drug entrepreneurs as their profitable business is likely to suffer appreciably. Earlier, the government has allowed the production of several medicines in the country after imposing a ban on their import. Health Minister Gagan Thapa was quick to criticise the private drug entrepreneurs stating that the protest and obstruction to the government's bid to provide essential medicines to the patients at cheap rate is a shameful act. Minister Thapa, who is credited for introducing far-reaching reforms in the country's health sector, expressed that it was the government's responsibility to provide medicines to the public at cheaper prices. If one looks closely at the Health Ministry's recent endeavours to assist the patients, he/she will find the drug dealers' protest a misplaced and futile move. The Health Ministry under Minister Thapa has gradually made the treatment of several dreaded chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney and heart ailments and many others free of cost at the government hospitals. The government has also been providing financial support to the patients for the treatment of many diseases.
The Health Ministry had undertaken these measures considering that the treatment of the chronic disease has been beyond the reach of many poor and middle class Nepalese because of the exorbitant prices of medicines sold by the private entrepreneurs. It is said that some essential medicines for cancer are sold in the country charging more than 20,000 per cent of its original price. The Health Minister is totally justified when he reiterated that the government has a responsibility to provide all kinds of support to the patients suffering from the dreaded diseases. Providing medicines at cheaper prices is one of the highly commendable ways the government has undertaken in its endeavours to assist the needy patients. The protest from the profit-making private entrepreneurs is therefore ill-intended. If they feel that the government's decision has come as a blow to them, they must make adjustments to their business and sell their medicines at competing prices. Stopping or discouraging the government and the Health Ministry in its noble efforts to assist the needy patients can only be described in one term: objectionable. For their misplaced and unnecessary protest, the private drug dealers may even draw backlash from the common masses because the common people know that the private pharmacy owners charge higher and exorbitant prices for the common medicines which the government has been providing either free of cost or at cheaper prices. Instead of staging protest against the noble motive of the government, these private entrepreneurs must think of selling their drugs at very reasonable prices. They must not take advantage of the needy patients and their relatives by selling medicines at higher prices.