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Posted On: 3 July 2011 10:14 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:11 pm

New rule led to medicine price rise

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Many nationals and expatriates do not agree with Qatar’s decision to lift government control over pricing of medicines, which they believe had caused the sudden rise in the prices of pharmaceutical products in the local market. Majority of the respondents- 64 per cent - to an online survey conducted by Al Sharq called for strict state control over pricing of medicines. And a bigger number of respondents - 80 per cent - felt that the a decision of the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) to keep away from fixing the prices, as stipulated by the new laws, had caused the current hike in medicine prices. In reply to a question, “do you think the government should import medicines and distribute them to the pharmacies,” 64 percent of the 374 respondents answered “yes” while 25 percent said “no”. Only five per cent of the 407 respondents who commented on the price hike, felt that the hike was not linked with implementation of the new laws that sought liberalisation of imports and abolition of state control over pricing. Reacting to the survey, several nationals and expatriates expressed the view that the new laws had failed to achieve the targeted goals. The laws were intended to address the high prices of medicines in the country, but what actually happened in the market was just the opposite. “Prices of medicines have soared by up to 50 percent. The new rule has failed to make any positive impact on the market. It has also led to price variations in different pharmacies. The government should review its decision. The Consumer Protection Department should intervene to control the market, because medicines are of prime importance to public health,” a respondent, Hussain Al Sayed, was quoted as saying by the daily. He felt that if medicines are directly imported by the government, the prices would fall by about 50 percent. Hamada Mohammed, another respondent, did not fully agree with this view. He thinks that it is not the government’s job to import medicines for the market, but the authorities should control and monitor the prices by issuing a price list, as they do in the case of fruits and vegetables. “The government should put a ceiling on the prices, but the traders should be allowed to sell medicines at prices that are lower than the maximum price fixed by the government. This can trigger healthy competition in the market,” said Mohammed. Ahmed Saleh said people with limited income would be the worst hit by the price hike, since many of them are not covered by health insurance. “Although the public hospitals are providing the best health care services, many people are forced to rely on private clinics and pharmacies for various reasons. The new law is expected to produce some positive results, but what is happening now is the contrary,” said Saleh.