Prices of 565 vital medicines reduced

Prices of 565 vital medicines reduced

Patients suffering from a range of serious illnesses, including diabetes and anxiety disorders, will benefit from a 20 per cent reduction in costs.

By Praseeda Nair

Published: Tue 28 Jun 2011, 9:21 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

Patients suffering from a range of serious illnesses, including diabetes and anxiety disorders, will benefit from a 20 per cent reduction in costs on an average for their medication from September 1. This follows a Ministry of Health directive to make 565 pharmaceutical drugs cheaper and more accessible to the public.

“Our adoption of the decision to approve the reduction of the prices of the pharmaceutical drugs is a practical step towards providing comprehensive health care to all members of our society. This is part of the ministry’s vision and mission to put health, disease prevention and treatment as our national priorities,” UAE Health Minister Dr Hanif Hassan said at a Press conference on Monday.

He said the price reduction was a result of a “fruitful cooperation between the Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical companies to provide patients with care and support”.

Sixty-seven drugs by pharmaceutical majors like Pfizer and Merck Sharp & Dohme are part of the first batch of roughly 20 per cent of a price cuts across the board, effective from July 1. The price cut on the remaining 498 drugs will be effective from September.

Al Baraha Pharmacy’s Assistant Pharmacist, Mohanan T, commented on the potential impact the reduced prices may have on pharmacies across the UAE. “This initiative is a breakthrough for patients, even though it may mean less of a profit for pharmacies,” he said.

After working in the field for the past 12 years, Mohanan noted the relatively costly nature of medicines in the UAE. “Compared to other countries, medicines in the UAE are still on the higher side, but that is because almost all drugs are imported from all over the world. With the Ministry of Health tying up with international drug companies, prices can steadily be decreased with time, which is good for patients who don’t have insurance. An average type-2 diabetes patient can spend more than Dh500 a month on medication alone, so these kinds of price reductions can really make a difference,” he said.

According to Mohanan, the most popular prescription drugs include Lipitor by Pfizer aimed at patients with heart disease and high cholesterol levels; Xanax by Pfizer, used to treat moderate to severe anxiety disorders and panic attacks; and Januvia by Merck Sharp & Dohme, used in conjunction with exercise and dietary restrictions to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type-2 diabetes. All three of the top-sellers will sell cheaper from July.

From September, 103 drugs under GlaxoSmithKline, will be available at reduced prices for the general public. Other firms supporting price reductions include Alcon Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Astrazeneca, Bayer Schering, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Chauvin Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Eli Lilly, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, H. Lundbeck A/S, Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd., Janssen-Cilag, Les Laboratories Servier, Merck Serono, Novartis Pharma AG, Sanofi Aventis, and Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

Once the directive by the Ministry of Health is announced to all pharmacies and hospitals, price stickers and inventory lists will need to be revised. “We will need to wait for official instructions on how to treat old stock ordered before the directive. Some pharmacies may choose to absorb 20 per cent of the price until new shipments come in, but it depends on a lot of factors and we cannot be sure,” Mohanan added.

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