Egypt hikes drug prices by a fifth as shortages grow

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The prices of certain medicines in Egypt will jump by 20% as the country attempts to deal with the increasing problem of medicine shortages.

The country’s government said that the price cap on medicines that cost up to 30 Egyptian pounds ($3.38) will see its price tag grow by 20% as a weaker currency has made it more expensive to import raw materials.

The price of drugs is currently fixed by Egypt’s Health Ministry--but this has led to a number of manufacturers to stop making some cheap generic medicines to staunch growing financial losses.

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According to Reuters, pharma companies will now be “obliged” to offer those medicines or risk having their licenses revoked.

"It is a good first step without which the sector would have collapsed," said the head of the Chamber of Pharmaceutical, Cosmetics and Appliances of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) Ahmed El-Ezaby.

El-Ezaby added that a minimum increase of two pounds for drugs pricing at below EGP 10 will be applied.

"When we were discussing the [price hike] decision, we had our eye on the drugs that are sold for less than EGP 10, for which an increase of 20 piasters or so would not solve the problem," he explained to Ahram Online.

There are currently 1,730 drugs missing from the market, said El-Ezaby, of which 600 are without alternatives.

The Ministry told reporters that it is now coordinating with the supplies and military production ministries to ensure the drugs are on the shelves. This follows a difficult economic period for the country that since 2010 has struggled with internal political disturbances that has had a major knock-on effect on its business environment.

Millions of poor Egyptians rely the generic medicines but the prices of some drugs have not changed since the 1990s--when the dollar was worth between 2.7 and 3.4 pounds.

- see Reuters' take
- check out Ahram Online’s story

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