The dollar reserves are about to expire … Medication subsidies for rationing have come

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In Asharq Al-Awsat, I wrote in Asharq Al-Awsat, with the approaching end of this year, the date in which the Central Bank of Lebanon said that it would no longer be able to support basic materials, and talk began about rationalizing drug subsidies, in a step that enables the bank to continue the subsidy for a longer period.

Until now, no final rationing mechanism has been agreed upon, according to what Karim Jabara, head of the Drug Importers Syndicate, confirms. In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he explained that the committee dedicated to examining this file, which is made up of sectors operating in medicine, the Ministry of Health, the Prime Minister and the Bank of Lebanon, is still discussing the best mechanism, based on two criteria: Reducing pressure on BDL reserves from Foreign currencies, and maintaining the level of the health sector, which ranks in advanced international ranks.

It is noteworthy that after the rise in price of the dollar on the black market (currently within the 8 thousand) in Lebanon, it is difficult to dollar secure the official price of any 1515 LP, who shall the Central Bank of Lebanon to secure 85 per cent of the bill to import the drug on the basis of the official price of reserves In foreign currency, provided that the importer secures the 15 percent of the market, but with the bank’s foreign exchange reserves diminishing, he announced that he will stop subsidizing all the basic materials that it supports on the basis of the official price (fuel, wheat and medicine), in addition to a food basket launched by the Ministry of Economy some time ago and supported by it The bank is based on the rate of 3900 dollars. The bill for importing medicine in Lebanon is 1 billion 740 million dollars annually, while the value of what it exports does not exceed 38 million dollars.Among the rationalization mechanisms that are being discussed, for the drug subsidy to be based on an average exchange rate between the black market and the official price, which is 3900 pounds, instead of the official price of 1515 pounds per dollar, or the adoption of subsidizing only a specific part of the drug and stopping support for another part, which allows Continuing support for a longer period of up to 7 or 8 months. According to the opinion of the head of the Parliamentary Health Committee, Representative Assem Araji.

Araji told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the proposal to rationalize drug support, and in the event that support for a certain number of drugs is approved only, is based on the criterion of necessity, meaning that the Ministry of Health will be asked to draw up a list in which it defines essential drugs (Vital and essentials drugs) to continue their support. Only while the support stops with the rest of the medicines, it is assumed that the list of drugs that will continue to be supported includes what is used in the intensive care rooms, and medicines for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stress and the nervous system.

But adopting this mechanism by rationalizing medicine is “very difficult,” according to Jabara, explaining that it is “difficult for doctors to unanimously agree on what is essential in medicine or not, unless the World Health Organization’s list in this context, which was developed for poor countries, is to be approved. Less possible for citizens. ”

Jabara explains that if this regulation is approved, the support will not include many treatments for serious diseases. For example, breast cancer, revealing that the committee is working hard to find solutions and that it will come up with recommendations very soon.

Araji and finds that there is currently no solution but the adoption of rationalization, while at the same time, the industry support local, as there are 11 pharmaceutical plant in Lebanon can secure 41 per cent of the market need, and this requires a plan to increase the national production of medicine through the provision of incentives from the state of the plant It is exempt from added tax and raw materials subsidy. In theory, local drug production could suffice the needs of the Lebanese market or the largest part of it, but the matter without it many obstacles, according to the head of the National Health Authority, Dr. Ismail Sukkariyah, the first of which is what he calls the “drug cartel”, because “more than half of the medicine in Lebanon is monopolized by 5 Large companies, and more than 30% of smaller companies, while the Lebanese industry acquires no more than 15% of it, and this “cartel reaps huge profits that will not be easily dispensed with.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Sukkariyeh explains that most countries have reduced their drug bill by adopting ginkgo (the alternative that is usually cheaper), as it represents 90 percent of the drug market in the United States, and 80 percent in European countries, while it remains A slogan in Lebanon, as there are only 850 generics out of 6,000 drugs on the Lebanese market.

In this context, Sukariya points out that some pharmaceutical companies, in order to gain more profits, registered 2,700 drugs without entering the market. They bought the license without taking advantage of it so as not to allow other companies to introduce cheaper medicine, adding that “one of the wonders of Lebanon is also that The price of generic is more than the price of the basic medicine, and this exists in Lebanon in dozens of medicines.





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