The Health Ministry gave in to the demands of the pharmaceutical companies with regard to increasing the prices of chronic diseases medications that have no cheaper alternatives on the market, a Ministry of Health official source said Sunday.
The Ministry had to agree to the companies' request for fear of looming shortages in those medications, in case it insisted on its stance. The Ministry had previously issued a statement assuring that chronic diseases medications would be excluded from the price hike.
Spokesperson for the Health Ministry, Khaled Megahed, said the ministry will hand over to the drug companies, on Thursday, the final list of adjustments to drug prices, after which the health minister will hold a news conference to announce to the public details of the decision to the public.
The hikes will not apply to the stock of drugs already produced before the decision, which will be sold in accordance to the old prices, he added.
Pharmacies which will sell their old stock of medications in accordance to the new price will be referred to the public prosecutor, said Megahed.
The Chair of Medicine Manufacturing within the Pharmacists Syndicate, Mahfouz Ramzy, criticized the decision of the Ministry, saying large pharmacies which have a big stock of old drugs will monopolize the market until their stocks run out, because they will be selling in accordance to the older, cheaper prices.
On the other hand, small pharmacies which have limited amounts of stock will be forced to sell the newly produced medicines at the higher prices, thus encouraging citizens to buy from the larger pharmacies.
The decision will cause thousands of small pharmacies to shut down, said Ramzy.
The prices of about 4,665 drugs for diabetes, blood pressure, heart and kidney chronic diseases will increase, without exception, by up to 50 percent, said Ahmed Farouq, former Secretary General of the Pharmacists Syndicate.
Farouq also rejected the Ministry 's decision to sell the current stock of medications in accordance to the old prices, while selling the newly produced drugs in accordance to the new prices.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm