Prices of more drugs to be slashed in Bahrain
Manama, July 8, 2014
Drugs used to treat skin conditions and sexually transmitted diseases will be included in a nationwide scheme to reduce prices of medicines in Bahrain.
The third phase of the initiative, which is part of a GCC decision to unify cost of medication across the Gulf, will come into effect starting October 7, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It will cover 189 dermatology and venereology medicines registered in Bahrain, said National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive Dr Baha Eldine Fateha.
"Of the 189, branded species are 129, while the remaining 60 are generic medicines, which will see the price reduction," he told the GDN yesterday.
"Out of this, 23 types will see a reduction ranging between 10 per cent and 25 per cent which are those that fall under the highly used category.
"Another 51 types will have reductions on their prices ranging between 25 per cent and 50 per cent, while 22 types will see a reduction ranging between 50 per cent and 73 per cent."
NHRA will issue the complete list of reduced prices during the first week of October.
"This is to ensure that the public is fully aware of the price reduction, before we implement it," said Dr Fateha.
"The prices will also be available on the NHRA website www.nhra.bh."
He added that the fourth and final phase will include antibiotics and vitamins.
The first two phases, which were announced in January, covered commonly used medications and pharmacies and were given until May 15 to ensure the new pricing structure was in place.
Meanwhile, Dr Fateha warned dealers in the country who refrain from distributing drugs to local agents, despite having sufficient stock.
"No dealer shall have a monopoly over any medicine with the power to release or hold medicines at their will," he said.
His comments followed reports of shortage of Lipitor, which reduces cholesterol levels in patients.
Sources said the medicine was available with the dealer, Yousuf Mahmood Hussain Company, but was not released into market because the manufacturer, Pfizer, disputed the new reduced prices.
However, Dr Fateha denied to comment on "potential legal action" against the dealer.
He also dismissed claims of shortage of medicines used for treating chronic diseases including hypertension and diabetes.
"All products that faced a shortage during the past one month are now available, including Euthyrox with its manufacturer Merck informing us on their acceptance of price reduction, which came into effect from June 29," he added.
"At the same time, I once again remind the public that there are a number of alternatives available for these medicines that they say are short.
"It is not good to make a big deal of something not so serious."
Yousuf Mahmood Hussain Company general manager Nizar Saifuddin said the dispute has been resolved and the manufacturer has agreed to the new costs.
"We are not aware or informed of any legal action so far and we don't see anything of the sort needed as it was the NHRA who had given us a date until when we were asked to wait," he said.
"The negotiations were going on between the manufacturer (Pfizer) and the GCC leaders and we were only awaiting an order from the NHRA.
"We do not debate on the 'patient rights first' principle and holding back a product for no reason is illegal.
"Moreover, logically, why should we hold back a product as that would mean we lose business."
The GDN earlier reported that the GCC Central Committee for Drugs (GCC-DR) has also called for a unified database of herbal medicines permitted by all Gulf countries, as part of the move to control prices. - TradeArabia News Service