‘Don’t create artificial scarcity of medicines’

ABU DHABI — Pharmacies involved in creating artificial scarcity of medicines will have to face consequences, a top official of the Ministry of Health has warned.

By Anjana Sankar

Published: Sun 12 Jun 2005, 10:22 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:57 PM

Humaid Mohammed Al Shamsi, Assistant Under-Secretary of Pharmacies and Supplies, told Khaleej Times that pharmacies will not be allowed to cut down on purchases of cost-effective, life-saving medicines and other commonly consumed drugs.

Al Shamsi was responding to the stand taken by some pharmacies that they will be forced to reduce their purchases and sell expensive drugs to maintain their profit margin in the wake of the Ministry of Health’s decision to slash profit margins on drugs to 44 per cent from the existing 55 per cent.

The new Ministerial Decree reducing the prices of around 3,400 different types of drugs by seven per cent will be effective September. Accordingly, the agents or distributors will have a profit margin of 20 per cent and the pharmacies will get a margin of 24 per cent, it was learnt.

“It is the duty of pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies to ensure the availability of all types of medicines in the market. Moreover, it is an open market and if some do not stock the needed medicines, they will definitely lose out on their customers,” he noted.

“If the patients face shortage of any drug after the price slash, they can notify the Drug Control Department at the Ministry of Health. We will investigate into the genuineness of the shortage. And if the shortage is artificially created purely to jack up prices, such pharmacies will be punished,” warned Al Shamsi.

On the issue of non-availability of the lower-priced generic medicines, the under-secretary insisted that there was no scarcity of generic drugs in the UAE.

“A total number of 6,500 different types of drugs are available in the local market, of which a considerable number are generic,” he said.

However, in some cases, there are some medicines which are under patent like Lebitor used by patients with cholesterol and Naovarasc for blood pressure, and hence it is difficult to register their generic forms,” explained Al Shamsi.

According to him, patients need to be aware of the trade name and formulation of medicines so that they can ask for generic drugs in place of the more expensive branded medicines.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has approved 34 new medicines to be sold in the UAE. A decree to this effect was signed yesterday by Hamad Abdul Rahman Al Midfa, Minister of Health.

Out of the 34 medicines, three are innovator brands and the rest generic drugs.

The list include a type of insulin that comes in a five-pack cartridge and pen form, a life saving medicine to be used after heart attack and a vaccine for meningitis, in addition to generic antibiotics.

Drug prices and exchange rates

By a staff reporter

ABU DHABI — The cost of medicines quoted in euros will remain stable despite the Ministry of Health’s decision to cut down on their profit margins, Khaleej Times has learnt.

The prices will remain unaffected due to the slight increase in the exchange rate of euro. According to responsible sources at the ministry, the exchange rate for euros will be raised to 4.3 as against the existing rate of 4 while implementing the new marginal profit make-up for both the agents and pharmacies.

The prices of over 3000 different types of drugs will come down in September following the ministry’s decision to slash the profit margins on medicines from 55 to 44 per cent. Out of the 44 per cent, 20 per cent will be for the distributors and 24 per cent for retailers.

According to the decree signed by the minister of health, prices of 2903 drugs quoted in US dollars and 159 quoted in Saudi riyals will face a price crash by 7.1 per cent, 540 drugs priced in pounds sterling will have price reductions of 4.5 per cent and those priced in yen by 2.07 per cent.

The prices of around 47 medicines from Jordan will also be reduced by 7 to 6 per cent in September.

But according to some pharmacies, the revised exchange rate of Euro will only benefit the distributors and not the retailers.

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