DOHA: Prices of some medicines will be unified by the GCC countries by the end of October this year, according to a senior official of Kuwait’s health ministry.
The idea is to bring prices of medicines down in those GCC countries where they are quite expensive. The unification of prices of some 2,500 medicines imported by GCC states is being implemented in phases, says the assistant undersecretary of the Kuwaiti ministry.
“We are ready to launch the first phase in October 2014,” said Dr Umer Al Syed Umer. He, however, clarified that prices of medicines been selected for unification will remain the same only until their arrival at the ports of entry. Then the government of each country will decide how much profit margin is to be kept by sellers, so prices will in reality vary as far as the end-user is concerned.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest market for medicines and is 15 times bigger than some of its GCC peers. So medicines are comparatively cheaper there. They are most expensive in Bahrain because it is a small market, said Umer. In Kuwait, medicines are quite expensive.
Talking about fake medicines, he said this was a concern the world over so the GCC region was no exception. Most fake medicines were sold online, he said. “World Health Organisation (WHO) is, therefore, warning people not to buy medicines online.”
Umer said in his country strict monitoring by the health ministry of imported stocks at the ports of entry and sales outlets had made sure that fake medicines didn’t enter Kuwait. He is Assistant Undersecretary for Medicines and Medical Equipment Affairs in the Kuwaiti ministry.