Lebanon’s caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hassan called on “rationalizing the distribution of medicine” and warned that the quantity of pharmaceutical drugs is sufficient for another three months.
Last week, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces foiled several attempts to smuggle, through the Rafik Hariri International airport, hundreds of boxes of medicines outside the country.
The operations come as Lebanese people have started to stockpile medicines fearing they will no longer be available or that prices will increase with the Central Bank saying it may lift subsidies by the end of October.
During a meeting held Tuesday at the Health Ministry with representatives of pharmaceutical importers and distributors in Lebanon, Hassan said concerned parties have discussed efforts to guarantee the availability of subsidized medicines to all patients residing in the Lebanese territories.
The Minister said that it was unacceptable for medical companies to monopolize the market and that medicines ought to be distributed fairly to all pharmacies.
“The quantity of medicine available in warehouses is sufficient for two to three months,” he said, adding that the Ministry would start efforts to provide an additional amount of medicines sufficient for another three months with the money that is still available at the Central Bank.
Hassan said there is a difficulty resulting from delayed transactions at the Central Bank, in addition to a decision by its Gov. Riad Salameh stipulating importers of medicines to pay in cash.
“We call on the Governor to discuss issues related to the medical sector with the Health Ministry before taking any decisions that would leave a direct and negative effect on the medical service in the country,” the Minister added.
Last week, Hassan launched an inspection campaign of pharmaceutical businesses, including drug warehouses and pharmacies in light of reports about the hoarding of subsidized medicines with the aim of smuggling them out of Lebanon and selling them at a higher price.
Source: Beirut- Asharq Al-Awsat