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Drug wholesalers to pressure global pharma firms: reports

The Seoul branch of the Korea Pharmaceutical Distribution Association intends to exert pressure on global pharma firms operating here to cooperate regarding refunds and logistics costs for returning unsold drugs that are still usable elsewhere, news reports said Tuesday.

In an informal gathering with the media after a meeting of the organization’s board of directors, Park Ho-young, chairman of the association’s Seoul branch, reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the refusal of some global drugmakers to take back drugs no longer prescribed in Korea.

Dealing with leftover pills from bulk purchases is a long-standing issue for pharmaceutical distributors and pharmacies, which frequently are burdened with sizable quantities of drugs no longer prescribed by local doctors.

“The financial damages incurred by pharmaceutical distribution companies and pharmacies due to manufacturers’ refusal to give refunds cannot be overlooked,” Park was quoted as saying.

“The exact period of time for the loss is difficult to compute, as some global pharma firms do take returned pills, while some do not respond for two to three years,” said a representative of drug wholesaler Baekje Pharmaceutical.

There are no clear standards for compensating local drug companies for the costs of storing and maintaining unused drugs and returning them to the original sellers, according to the Korean Pharmaceutical Association, which represents Korean pharmacists.

Park of the pharma distribution body said his organization would take a firmer stance against uncooperative companies by revealing their names to the media on a monthly basis. This action will be carried out independently of the central association, he said.

Park said falling sales margins were partly the result of competition by domestic firms to partner with overseas pharma bodies. He said his branch will be working with the Korean Pharmaceutical Association and will then convey their collective opinions to the Korean Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (