Medicine prices to be cut by half in Bahrain
Manama, January 23, 2014
Medicine prices in Bahrain are expected to drop by up to 50 per cent within the next four months, it has emerged.
It was initially thought the major reduction in drug retail prices would not be seen until the end of the year, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
However, consumers can now expect to make massive savings at pharmacies by May 15.
Chemists across the country have already been given until Sunday to adjust the prices of around 5,000 products.
However, Bahraini authorities have started contacting international drug suppliers to inform them of a new national price ceiling for medications.
"We have already sent off the new price list and the effective date that it will be initiated, which is May 15," revealed National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive Dr Baha Eldin Fateha.
He said pharmacies were still in the process of lowering prices of the 5,000 products ahead of Sunday's deadline, after being given a one-week extension.
New rules state they can make a maximum profit of 35 per cent on products sold for less than BD20 ($52) and 25 per cent profit on those sold for more than BD20.
This compares to a previous profit ceiling of 45 per cent.
"This first reduction is a minor one that will save consumers only between 10 to 15 per cent on medicine," said Dr Fateha.
However, he added that real savings would be made once international drug suppliers started to comply with a new pricing structure, which caps how much medicines can be sold for.
The aim is to bring the price of medicine in Bahrain in line with neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
"The next phase will be the major one as people will save an extra 35 per cent to 45 per cent on top of the first phase savings," said Dr Fateha.
He described Bahrain's current market for prescription and non-prescription medicines as a "fish market", since it was more about profit than people.
"At the moment the pharmaceutical industry in Bahrain is a fish market that deals with money, not with people," he said.
"The NHRA is regulating pharmaceutical practices to ensure people get the best service."
Pharmacies that do not comply with the first phase of price restructuring by Sunday will face prosecution.
The deadline for doing so was extended from last Sunday after pharmacy owners complained they had not been given sufficient notice.
"We have inspected a number of pharmacies who have fully complied and others who have changed the price on the computer, but not on the shelves," said Dr Fateha.
"We require the price to be changed on the shelves too, so we have given them until Sunday to finish.
"Some pharmacies have not complied at all, but come Sunday you will see what will happen.
"By then everyone who visits a pharmacy in Bahrain should experience a minor reduction in price." - TradeArabia News Service