To bring down prices of medicines and ensure a continuous supply, all registered and licensed importers as well as dealers in drug importations have been allowed to fix retail prices of the medicines as against the initial price control being done by the council.
Earlier, a Cabinet meeting, chaired by HE the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, had decided to issue a draft law cancelling Law Number 7 of 1990 on the pricing system of medicines and pharmaceutical products.
The new law came into force some two weeks ago, officials said.
Pharmacies in Qatar had also earlier expressed their reservations at the proposed new drug law, calling for liberalisation, saying the market was already too fragile and is suffering from high rents and overhead costs.
In addition, all medicines being imported into Qatar have to be on the health authorities’ approved list, with the stringent laws going on to define even the country of origin for all medicines being imported.
Currently, up to 7000 medicines are on the SCH’s approved list with only 2,000 actually available throughout the country.
“All the three laws regulating the pricing of medicines, drugs being imported and made available to local pharmacies across the country have been scrapped by the SCH. There will now be in place a free trade in medicine,” SCH Pharmacy and Drug Control department director Dr Aisha al-Ansari said at a press conference yesterday.
She said that earlier, the department was responsible for pricing every item of medication imported into the country.
The official explained that based on an initial registration law of 1986, importers could not bring in drugs without approved agents and said that any licensed dealer can now import medicines from approved manufacturing companies, as well as those which meet the SCH guidelines and procedures.
There are presently a total of 18 agents-importers of drugs, who have been licensed by the SCH in the country.
“The idea is to bring down the prices of every drug being sold at our local pharmacy stores and also to ensure there is enough quantity in the market. So, right now, any agent or dealers willing to import drugs must be registered and licensed by the SCH and also must have licensed pharmacy stores, apart from having in place IT infrastructure to record all medicines,” she highlighted.
Dr al-Ansari also mentioned that importers were allowed to bring medicines from only approved manufacturers and countries registered with the SCH and added that agents can also now own more than one pharmacy store.
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