Experts predict dramatic reduction in medicine prices
A senior official at the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) has lauded the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for it recent decision to unify medicine prices in all of the member countries. This new medical regulation comes after the council approved the free movement of medicine and pharmaceutical drugs throughout the GCC states in order to cut red tape and bring down medicine prices.
According to Abdulelah Al-Malik of the CSC, this move is part of the GCC’s efforts toward a common currency in the region. “The step to unify the prices of medicines is a good measure, and it will be more achievable if Gulf countries approve the implementation of the unified currency project,” said Al-Malik. Pharmacists Committee member Salem Mabkhout Al-Nahdi, told local media that up to this moment his institution hasn’t received any notifications on the issue of the common currency for GCC states.
“The unification of drug prices will be difficult to apply because the international pharmaceuticals companies have agents in each Gulf state. But if they assigned only one agent in the Middle East the step will be more successful and prices will be unified for the citizen’s best interests,” Al-Nahdi explained. Despite GCC governments’ endeavors to bring about unified medicine prices, variable prices in KSA could be tricky to avoid, experts say. However, according to Al-Nahdi, they can be explained due to external factors.
“The different prices in Saudi Arabia can be considered normal because of many reasons, including storage periods and the continuous production of medicines with new costs involved,” he said. “On the international level, the rising rates of some pharmaceutical ingredients, the costs of other inputs and transportation are also reflected on prices here,” Al-Nahdi asserted. Reduced oil prices will play a major role to help decrease the prices of some medicines and drugs, which are imported through governmental bids.
However, the pharmacist stressed that the Saudi Ministry of Health sets the prices of medicines in the Kingdom. “The rates cannot be manipulated here in the country because the Ministry of Health sets and monitors prices, with this task recently being transferred to the jurisdiction of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority,” he said.
He expected prices of medicines to drop by mid this year, 2015, but with a slow pace.