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Gulf medicine prices fall as euro grows weaker.

Uniform pricing policy key to affordable drugs

Dubai Collective and individual efforts by the Gulf states are required to make medicines more affordable. As it is, despite the best efforts of the authorities to control prices, the UAE has one of the highest drug pricing regimes in the world, and the situation is not much different in the other Gulf states with the exception of Saudi Arabia.

Currently, the same imported drugs are priced more than 10 per cent higher in the UAE than they are in Saudi Arabia. The situation is compounded by the fact that imported drugs make up more than 70 per cent of the treatments that are prescribed in the region.

Keeping drug prices in check has been helped by the sharp decline of the euro as the bulk of drug imports into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are from the European Union. Already, it has impacted on end-user pricing, with some prescribed medications seeing price declines of 10-15 per cent.

Onus on authorities

In the absence of a unified drug pricing policy in the GCC, the onus is on the GCC authorities to ensure medicines are affordable.

"In recent years, the UAE has done a lot on its drug pricing policy and having the necessary checks and balances in place," Dr Azad Moopen, chairman of DM Healthcare, said. "But it's a continuous process."

Many in the industry believe a unified drug pricing policy is essential.

Dr Moopen added: "It is better to have a unified drug registration policy for the whole GCC as it will make it easy for manufacturers and distributors with registration in one of the countries."

See also Page 28

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Dec 26, 2010
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