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Don't offer discounts on medicines without ministry's nod, UAE pharmacies told

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on August 25, 2020 | Last updated on August 25, 2020 at 06.02 am
discounts, medicines, ministry nod, UAE pharmacies,

(Alamy Image)

The rule applies to all pharmaceutical products prices of which have been set and controlled by Mohap.

Pharmacies in the UAE have been reminded not to offer discounts on the retail price of drugs fixed by the health ministry. The ministry officials have been conducting surprise inspections to ensure that there are no violations to the prescribed rule, according to sources.

Pharmacies are not allowed to give discounts on any medicines - prescription-based or over-the counter - without the approval of the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap). The rule applies to all pharmaceutical products prices of which have been set and controlled by Mohap, industry sources have said.

Manager of a pharmacy chain said: "This means that on products whose prices are controlled by the ministry, the supplier cannot put his own price tag, after including his margins. And this is not something new as it has always been the case from the very beginning."

According to industry sources, there was always a rule on not offering discounts on such medications (prices of which have been set by Mohap). However, since it was not closely monitored, some pharmacy groups began this practice of offering discounts to lure customers."

A representative from a pharmacy group told Khaleej Times: "We used to offer a five per cent discount on some pharmaceutical products. The ministry representatives contacted us and reminded us to strictly follow the retail price recommended by them and not to offer any discounts on those."

Another pharmacist added: "We have always known that prices of all medicines - be it prescribed or those over the counter - are regulated by only the Ministry of Health and we cannot offer any discount on them. But in the last two years, a number of pharmacy chains began offering attractive discounts to boost sales and this adversely affected those small individual units that were complying with the ministry guidelines."

"Therefore, this was much required now, especially with some uncertainty in the market due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We are glad the government took notice and began spot inspections urging pharmacies to adhere to rules or face strict penalties as this unhealthy practice should be nipped in the bud," he pointed out.

Pharmacies are, however, allowed to give discounts on cosmetics and on most multivitamin supplements (barring a few) as those are not controlled by the ministry.

The pharmacist added that the government has been reducing prices of a number of vital drugs in a phased manner, and therefore, it is in our best interest that we trust the government and follow the rules. 

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