Nur-Sultan adopted a secret shopper method to establish maximum transparency in the pharmaceutical industry. Monitoring groups continue inspections of pharmacies. Their goal is to eliminate illegal activities of pharmaceutical market entities. Since July 13, the Department for Quality Control and Safety of Goods and Services of Nur-Sultan has received 62 reports of administrative violations. They are not only about overpricing – a quarter of cases involve purchase, storage, and sale of unregistered and unauthorized drugs.
“The monitoring groups are composed of police officers and personnel of the Economic Investigations Department. They carry out their monitoring activities. In addition, a mystery shopper conducts his operations, buys medicines. If the illegal activity is detected, reports are drawn up, explanatory statements are taken and together with the drug packs and a fiscal receipt, they are sent to us,” said Head of Pharmaceutical Control Division of the Department for Quality Control and Safety of Goods and Services of Nur-Sultan Assiya Moldimanova.
In less than 20 days, entrepreneurs from the Kazakh capital had to pay more than 8 million tenge (US$19,139) of fines for overpricing of medicines. Despite daily warnings from government authorities and social media publications that urge people to remain humane in this difficult and uncertain times, new violators keep appearing. Some entrepreneurs increased prices at the pharmacies, mainly for antiviral drugs and antibiotics, while others buy up medicines and resell them at a higher price.
“Prices are increased by 5 to 10 percent in pharmacies. The managers of pharmaceutical organizations explain this as mechanical errors. Allegedly, these mistakes may occur in packaging and dosage forms when medicines are delivered – the prices were confused. This is not always intentional, but just a human factor,” Moldimanova said.
Entrepreneurs have got a lot to risk. They may face a fine of 130 monthly calculation indexes (MCI), equivalent of 361,140 tenge (US$864). This amount will be halved if the violation fine is paid within a week. According to the relevant department, there are also entrepreneurs in the Kazakh capital who are caught twice. Such cases are immediately sent to the court. As for the availability of drugs on the shelves of pharmacies, the Department for Quality Control and Safety of Goods and Services assures that almost all the necessary medicines are now available.
“The Mayor’s Office of Nur-Sultan is working jointly with Kazakh Health Ministry on the provision of medicines to Kazakh citizens. A stabilization fund of 1.6 billion tenge (US$3.8 million) was established. Distributors of pharmacy chains are provided with support in logistics, simplification of drug procurement and import procedures facilitation. In addition, working capital is allocated for the purchase of medicines,” press office of the department reported.
Nearly 1.8 million medicine packs from the most commonly used drug groups have been delivered in Nur-Sultan since July 12. They include antiviral, antibacterial, anticoagulants and antipyretic drugs.