Prices of 652 more medicines will be reduced by early next year in addition to the 657 whose prices were cut on Monday, senior officials of the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said yesterday.
Dr Saleh al-Marri, assistant secretary general for Medical Affairs, and Dr Aisha al-Ansari, director of the Department of Pharmacy and Drug Control, told a press conference that the plan was to reduce the prices of about 4,000 medicines by the end of 2015.
“In the first phase, we reduced prices for 657 medicines. During the second phase, prices of another 652 medicines will be reduced by the first quarter of 2015. We hope to complete the process by the end of 2015,” Dr al-Marri stated.
GCC countries aim to have uniform prices for all medicines.
“All the prices are decided on the lowest one prevalent in the region. We have taken the lowest price of a medicine in any GCC country and implemented it throughout the region. In many cases, Saudi Arabia has the lowest prices which have been taken as the standard price for the region.”
Dr al-Ansari pointed out that the wholesale distributors and retailers had been informed three months ago about the implementation of the reduced prices.
“The retailers and wholesalers cannot complain about any loss on account of excess stock of medicines as we have given them sufficient time to make arrangements. If they have any excess stock left, they will have to negotiate and settle the issue between them.”
The official noted that the profit margin for retailers and distributors had been increased. The retailers’ profit margin has been increased from the existing 10% to 25% while the wholesalers get a profit of 15%.
She also said that drug inspectors were examining pharmacies in the country to make sure that the reduced prices were in effect.
She said that the price reduction was implemented all over the GCC countries in phases.
“In some countries the reduced prices have already come into effect while in others it is still being implemented. The process will be completed within a specified period all over the GCC,” she added.
The two officials also said that the in the first phase, prices of generic medications for the treatment of common chronic diseases were approved by the Permanent Licensing Committee of the SCH. They include heart, endocrine, GI, dermatology and musculoskeletal medications. During the next phases, the rates of the rest of drugs will be determined after completion of the adoption of their import prices.
Pharmacies all over the country had reduced the prices of several medicines substantially from Monday following a directive from the Pharmacy and Drug Control Department at the Supreme Council of Health.