Pharmacies given deadline to implement new medicine prices

Assistant Health Minister Ibrahim Mostafa said at a press conference on Tuesday that a new pricing system for medications has been devised and that pharmaceutical companies have been given a deadline to implement it.

The new pricing system, announced in July, would link medication prices in Egypt to those in Europe, the Gulf and Canada.

Mostafa also said the conditions of pharmacists would be improved. “We met with their syndicate to discuss their demands, and we are working on developing the health sector in order to develop better services.”

Health Ministry Undersecretary Saifallah Imam said the pricing policy aims to be fair to both producers and patients.

About 200 pharmacists had staged protests outside the Health Ministry, calling for activating the pricing system, which would increase their profit margin by one percent.

“The government would take measures against companies that do not implement the new system,” Imam said.

He also said that counterfeit medicines make up no more than one percent of the market. “The new law on pharmaceuticals would reduce this phenomenon,” he added.

The ministry denied in July that it had devised an entirely new system for pricing medication, and said in a statement that the new decision was simply a modified version of a 2009 decision.

The 2009 decision was challenged at the time by several NGOs before the State Council Administrative Court, which halted its application in April 2010. The government appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, which on May 2011 reversed the lower court’s ruling and cleared the way for the decision to take effect.

It stipulated that prices would be compared with those in 36 countries and medications will be sold locally at 10 percent less than the lowest price found abroad.

Under the old pricing system, which was set in a 1991 decree, medication prices are based on a cost-plus system which included the cost of production plus a profit, regardless of prices abroad.

The Health Ministry's decision to tie medication pricing to international prices sparked a feud between the doctors and pharmacists syndicates in July.

While the Pharmacists Syndicate described the decision as historic, the Doctors Syndicate said it would harm patients who cannot afford price increases.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

Related Articles

Back to top button