Comparative Analysis of Prescription Drug Prices in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Countries



The SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) is a geopolitical organization composed of 8 neighboring countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The objective of this study was to compare the prices of some selected drugs in SAARC countries.


A list of 24 drugs was prepared based on certain inclusion and exclusion criteria. The retail prices of the drugs were determined from different sources and verified manually in the open market. The prices obtained in local currencies were converted into US dollars for comparison purposes. In another analysis, the gross domestic product (GDP) of each country was factored for comparative analysis.


Out of the 23 drugs, 17 comparisons across countries were statistically different at P .05. These analyses revealed large differences in drug prices among SAARC countries. The GDP-adjusted median drug prices revealed a more polarized picture, with Nepal generally having the highest prices (19 out of 24 drugs) and Sri Lanka having the lowest (19 out of 24 drugs). For example, the widely used antipsychotic drug risperidone was 7 times more expensive in Pakistan ($0.316) compared with Sri Lanka ($0.045). Adjusting for GDP made risperidone more than 18 times more expensive ($21.90 and $1.20) across the same 2 countries.


Prices of selected drugs varied markedly in SAARC countries. After adjusting for GDP, drug prices became more polarized across countries, with Nepal featuring the highest prices. In determining drug prices, the country’s GDP and the population’s purchasing power need to be taken into account.


Dileep K. Rohra Omar A. Abuomar Peter M.B. Cahusac Angela Dangol Priyanga Ranasinghe

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