A sharp drop in the prices of medicines in Qatar over the past two years has come as a great relief to citizens and expatriates, apparently drawing more customers to private pharmacies.
A large number of medicines, including several expensive life saving drugs have become cheaper following a phased price cut, implemented by the Ministry of Public Health in line with a GCC decision to unify import prices of medicines in member countries.
Enquiries with several private pharmacies have revealed that the ministry move has led to an unprecedented drop in the prices of several most sought after drugs.
Prices of 400 medicines were reduced by an average of over 26 percent in the third and latest phase of the price cut, enforced last month. Some medicines have become cheaper by more than 80 percent.
According to data released by the Ministry, with implementation of the third phase, prices of 2,873 medicines have been reduced. This constitutes 62.5 percent of the total 4,600 registered drugs in the country.
“We have noticed that some patients with chronic diseases like diabetes have started buying medicines from our store for months continuously. After the price cut, many drugs have became affordable so they prefer to buy them from private pharmacies rather than going to a public hospital,” said a pharmacist working with a private pharmacy in the Airport area.
With issuance of the third revised price list, prices of several medicines in high demand such as painkillers and tablets for diabetes and gastric diseases have fallen by up to 50 percent. Anti-impotence drugs and contraceptive pills have also become cheaper.
Price of a box of Brufen (used as analgesic and anti-inflammatory drug) containing 30 tablets in three strips has declined from QR32 to QR20 (for 600mg) and from QR20 to QR12 (for 400mg). Price of a bottle of Brufen syrup came down from QR19 to QR11.35. A popular diabetes medicine Janumet (50 mg/1000 mg) that was available at about QR300 (a box containing 56 tablets) is now being sold at QR189.25.
Price of a box of 10 suppository capsules for piles of Procto-Glyvenol, 400 mg + 40mg declined from QR20 to QR15.75. Prices of anti-impotence drugs Snafi and Viagra also declined remarkably, said pharmacy sources. A box of Snafi containing four tablets of 20mg, earlier sold at QR156 is now is available at QR99.75. Price of Viagra has also fallen from QR156 to QR86 per box. Such medicines can be dispensed only on a prescription by a doctor.
Prices of a strip of 14 tablets of a gastro-resistant, Nexium 40mg, declined from QR117 to QR89.25.
Prices of vitamins remain unchanged except Centrum multivitamin, said the pharmacy sources. A box of 100 tablets of Centrum is available now at QR56. Earlier it was being sold at QR100.
Since herbal medicines are not included in the price cut, their prices are not expected to fall. On the contrary, the prices have gone up in some cases. For instance, prices of a famous cough syrup Prospan increased from QR22 to QR29.75.
Health inspectors carry out surprise raids to ensure that the pharmacies comply with the revised price list and other health requirements. “At least once in three months they come for inspection. They check the storage of medicines, prescriptions of doctors for restricted medicines and licence of pharmacists and hygiene related requirements,” said a pharmacist.
Source Credit: The Peninsula Qatar