Medicines- CC via Pixabay/ qimono
CAIRO – 11 May 2019: Prices of about 50 local-manufactured and imported medicines were dramatically increased recently in pharmacies nationwide amid serious shortage of drugs in the market.
Over the past three months, prices of dozens of medicines went up, as per a decision by the United Co. For Pharmacists (UCP); the increase of some prices hiked by 100 percent without declaring the reasons behind the increase.
Some pharmacists voiced their astonishment of the price hike as they were not priory noticed. “We were surprised at the high increase and there was not prior notice,” a pharmacist in Mohandessin district, Cairo, told Egypt Today. He added that a further increase could be expected.
“Unfortunately, the change of the medicine prices is being carried out without censorship,” another pharmacist in Helwan, southern Cairo, told Egypt Today. He said that the real reason behind this increase is unknown, especially the Egyptian pound value increased against the US dollar- the hard currency needed for importing the manufacturing substances of the medicines.
Patients and clients also complaint about the price rise; “I decided to not buy it [Systane Untra Lubricating Eye Drops],” said Noha A., an accountant, in remarks to Egypt Today after she was surprised at the eye drop price at a pharmacy in the 6th of October city.
The price of Systane Untra Lubricating Eye Drops sharply went up by about 100 percent as it was sold for LE 75 but its new price was fixed at LE 135 (US $ 7.88).
“The price should not increase in this grave way. I think any increase should has a certain limit. But why it was increased by 100 percent,” she added, saying “They can keep it [the eye drops].”
Systane Untra is one of the drugs, whose prices soared over the past three months; price of Garamycin cream increased from LE 7 to 9 EGP, while Devarol-S 1 amp rose from LE 11.25 to 16.25; Chorionic Gonadotrophin 5000iu 1 amp from LE 67.5 to 90; Eltroxin 50mcg 100 tab from LE 32.5 to 40; Marevan 1mg 100 tab from LE 7 to 10.5; Glucophage 1000mg 30 tab from LE19 to 27; Glucolight XR 1000mg 30 tab from LE 13.5 to 30.
Other highly priced medicines are Novorapid (insulin) flexpen 5p from LE 350 to LE 472.5; Closol spray 40ml from LE12.75 to 15; Floxabact 500mg 5 tab from LE 10 to LE 14.75; Caldin Zinc susp 120ml from LE 10 to 16.5; and Bioprex 7.5mg 30 tab from LE 90 to LE 117.
To reveal the real behind price rise, Egypt Today contacted spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Khaled MEgahed, who declined to comment.
Other pharmacists spoke on condition of anonymity said that pharmaceutical companies exercise monopoly of some medicines, which have no alternatives and can easily ask the government to increase the prices amid the absence of censorship.
Despite this price hike, the local market has still suffered drug shortages since the government devaluated the currency against the US dollar scale on Nov. 3, 2016. Since then, pharmaceutical companies suspended drug production as they were unable to import drug ingredients with high cost after currency devaluation.
To deal with the financial problems facing pharmaceutical companies, the Ministry of Health had allowed a 20% price rise for drugs costing up to 30 EGP per pack, effective July 2016. The Minister later approved another price rise of 15% for local drugs and 20% for exported ones, to apply to 3,000 drugs in January 2017.
To help combat the drug shortage and the growing medicine black market in Egypt, An accountant has launched the Twitter Pharmacy (Saydalyet Twitter) project, through which patients can tweet the names of the drugs they need, and they are directed to pharmacies where they are available or individuals willing to sell or donate the drug.
Additional reporting by Marina Gamil