UAE to slash price of medicine

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The United Arab Emirates on Sunday adopted regulations that will help cut prices of more than 6,600 types of imported medicines by up to 40 percent, state news agency WAM reported.

The cabinet, at a meeting in Abu Dhabi chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, instructed the Health Ministry to issue a new price list for the medicines and gave pharmacies three months to adjust their prices, WAM said.

"The new system will cut prices of 6,619 types of medicines by between one percent and 40 percent," the news agency said.

The new system will also unify medicine prices with other states in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and provide alternative drugs for every type of medicine, including those prescribed for chronic diseases and other types of illnesses.

Healthcare businesses in the Gulf region are expected to boom in coming years as rising wealth couples with an increase in so-called lifestyle diseases - five of the six Gulf nations are in the global top 10 for prevalence of diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation.

Some 827,000 people between the ages of 20 and 79 have diabetes in the UAE, according to the Ministry of Health.

Treatment of diabetes accounts for about 40 percent of the UAE's overall healthcare expenditure, Amin al Amiri, assistant under-secretary for Medical practice & license at the ministry of health said.

The move is unlikely to have much impact on inflation in the UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, as health accounts for just over 1 percent of the overall index, analysts said.

Annual inflation eased to 0.7 percent in 2012, the lowest level since 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait starting the Gulf War, from 0.9 percent in previous two years. Analysts polled by Reuters in January forecast UAE consumer price growth accelerating to 1.8 percent this year.

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Posted by: Andy

@ Peter Hudson, or even much cheaper in Thailand. The profit margins on vitamins and medications in the UAE is ridiculous. When rents are so high and the cost of living is also crazy high retailers can only continue to raise prices just to live and cover their expenses.

Shop rents is a major reason medication and vitamin prices are so high. Residency visa fees and renewal fees for companies is another reason.

Posted by: Mac

It w'd have been great if the complete list is provided by AB with details like % reduction and category of medicine.
Also overall it was long due as medical cost (especially dental, maternity and eye check ups which are not covered by majority of insurers or as employments benefits) is very high in UAE considering low savings rate with high rentals. Medical expenses should be made reasonable as its good for humanity too.

Posted by: Peter Hudson

About time !!

Medicines in the UAE are outrageously priced and importers, distributors and retailers make obscene profits on them all at the cost of the consumer.

The same antibiotic that you can buy in London for 6 pounds costs AED 135 i.e almost 4 times more in UAE!! This is true for most of the imported medicines sold in UAE

This rip off has to stop.....

Posted by: king RX

I agree with Peter, however he seems to have left out the Manufacturers from his list of culprits.
The MOH is less successful than NHS in negotiating prices with manufacturers.
The proposed price reductions will come out of further reducing retail and wholesale margins, and to a much less extent, the actual import price.
Retailers barely get by in the GCC as their margins are regulated by the government. They make an average of 16% margin on medicines, and out of this they need to pay salaries, rents, insurance company discounts, etc. in the end leaving them with barely 3-4% operating margin which is modest by all accounts.
Distributors also get about 16% margin but their high profits are made through their exclusive monopolistic agreements with the international manufacturers, to distribute to the entire nation, private and govt sectors.

I hope the UAE plans to regulate school margins the same way they regulate pharmacies.

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