Manama: Qatar's Supreme Council of Health (SCH) hopes that a new law on the liberalisation of the medicine market will end the monopoly maintained by current distributors.

Dr Aisha Ebrahim Al Ansari, executive director of the pharmacy and drug control department, said the main aim of the new law was to create a competitive market and ensure increased supply of medicines and pharmaceutical products in order to help beat down drug prices.

The law would open the door for new importers to obtain licences to import medicines in order to provide all kinds of drugs from multiple sources to the public on a permanent basis, she told representatives of pharmaceutical companies and registered importers of medicines.

According to Al Ansari, the law is part of a study conducted to identify the need of the domestic market for medicines and the reasons for shortages and unavailability of some drugs, Qatari daily Gulf Times reported on Wednesday.

Some dealers were importing drugs with high profitability and were not importing other less lucrative drugs needed by patients in the private sector.

A new electronic system is being prepared to uses a number code to specify each package of medicine as well as its process of transfer and delivery from the source to the consumer, Al Ansari said. The electronic system would also tell if a drug was genuine or fake.

Al Ansari urged all pharmaceutical companies and their local agents to co-operate with the SCH in the application of the law and asked them not to put obstacles in the way of new importers so that the low price regime planned by introducing the law could be achieved, the daily said.