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Drugs to become cheaper

 Mary Philip

MUSCAT

Patients can heave a sigh of relief as the Ministry of Health has announced slashing of drug prices from June.

The Director General of Pharmaceutical Affairs and Drug Control under the Ministry of Health has issued a circular to private pharmacies and drug stores stating that all price-controlled drugs will have their rates cut from June 1.

Drugs for chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma will see prices fall by around 10 per cent. The new retail prices will be uploaded soon on the ministry website, the circular says.

The ministerial decision stipulating reduction of profit margin of drugs in the private sector to make it more affordable is a continuation of a phased approach aimed at unification of prices across the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries.

In the first phase, the manufacturer-to-distributor price was reduced, and was continued during re-registration of each product.

Through the latest decision, profit margin will be reduced from 55 per cent to 45. Earlier, the margin for the retailer was 22 per cent and for the distributor 23. As per the new decision, it will be now 19 and 26 per cent, respectively.

The profit margin will fall as the wholesaler and the retailer are to share the 45 per cent return.

“This is indeed good news as our family, which includes my mother and father-in-law, visits hospital at least 10 times a month,” said Reshma Mathew, a private-sector employee from Darsait.

This is a big saver for elderly and chronic patients who will be requiring medicines on a regular basis.

A former staff nurse Saritha Viju said, “Since medicines are highly priced any reduction is always welcome, especially since many people are struggling to meet treatment costs.”

Expectedly, pharma distributors are not so pleased. “This is going to affect the market. Considering the heavy cost of transporting and storing medicines, this is a big blow for us,” a senior official from a pharmacy firm said.

“The price slash has been continuing for some time now. This will definitely affect us badly but consumers will be relieved,” a pharmacist at a private outlet said.