Dubai: More than 6,000 medications will be cheaper by up to 40 per cent, making health care more affordable for patients in the UAE.
The UAE Cabinet on Sunday approved a new system which will reduce the prices of 6,619 medicines.
The system will unify the prices of medicines with those of GCC countries, providing alternatives for every kind of medication for chronic and other diseases. It will also include mechanisms for regulating and following up on the prices of medicine.
The system was approved during a cabinet meeting held on Sunday at the Presidential Palace chaired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, and Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, were present.
“The government’s regulation of the medicine sector represents a national benefit that cannot be neglected,” said Shaikh Mohammad.
He said that the medicine and food sectors are very important and cannot be overlooked, and that providing medicine at a reasonable price for all consumers will contribute to bolstering the medical sector and all concerned bodies operating in it.
Series of studies
The system was approved following a series of studies and meetings held between parties operating in the sector. The aim was to create an integrated system for unifying the prices of medicine imported into the private medical sector by altering the profit margin between pharmacy and agents.
The Cabinet gave the UAE Ministry of Health (MOH) three months to implement the new prices. The MOH has been negotiating with pharmaceutical drug manufacturing groups for several years. Its lobbying for reduced pricing resulted in the price reduction in January 2012 of 115 generic drugs from 5 per cent to up to 30 per cent.
Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Ameen Hussain Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Medical Practices and Licensing, said that reduced price will benefit patients. “We have been discussing the issue of pricing for several years. This is this first time that a pricing system is unified at a regional level. The new procedures will affect all private pharmacies. I will head the team that will be tasked with implementing the new system.”
He said key details on the new system will be announced shortly.
Gulf News spoke to representatives from the pharmacology and pharmaceutical industry.
Zeydan Abuissa, Country Manager at Pfizer Gulf and Levant region, said, “It is yet another milestone achieved by the UAE government and the Ministry of Health. Pfizer is constantly at full readiness to cooperate with the Ministry of Health to ensure fast and wider patients access to the innovative medicines they need.”
D. Azad Moopen, founder and fhairman of DM Healthcare, said, “We welcome the decision. For patients, this is very good news. ... We also hope that the new system will take into account the entire chain from manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer and patient."
The new system will ensure that 6,619 types of medicines get cheaper.
It unifies and discounts the prices of medication that are bought in US dollars and imported into the private sector. The discounts will vary from 1 per cent to as much as 40 per cent.
The system alters the profit margin between pharmacies and agents. It works on curbing the phenomenon of rising prices of medicine resulting from foreign currency fluctuations.
It also has provisions to encourage investments in the UAE’s pharmacology sector.
The system also aims to unify the prices of medicine with those in other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and providing alternative medicines for chronic and other diseases.
The system was approved following a series of studies and meetings.
The Cabinet instructed the Ministry of Health to immediately begin issuing the new prices for the medicines included in the system. The ministry was given three months to ensure that the new prices are implemented in the local market.
The new system includes mechanisms for regulating and following up on the prices of medicine. Once the three-month period lapses, inspectors from the Ministry of Health and other health authorities will visit private pharmacies to ensure the new prices have been complied with.
Other Cabinet decisions
In other decisions, the Cabinet approved the 2013 draft budget of Emirates Transport. Emirates Transport is expected to generate revenue of Dh1.4 billion, an increase of 8 per cent compared to 2012. Expenditures are pegged at Dh1.3 billion, an increase of 7 per cent from last year. Gross profits are projected at Dh110 million, a 13 per cent increase from 2012.
The budget includes a capital outlay of Dh464.9 million, of which Dh140 million will be allocated for school transportation. The rest will be allocated for transportation contracts provided for ministries and governmental bodies, and setting up and renovating customer service centres and service centres for technical testing of buses.
The Cabinet also approved the 2011 closing statement of the National Bureau of Statistics. The bureau’s expenditures for 2011 was Dh35.9 billion, while revenues reached Dh42.5 billion.
The Cabinet also ratified the signing of a double taxation avoidance agreement with Hungary.
With inputs from WAM