CAIRO: The Ministry of Health denied news of an increase in the price of medicine, Dr Abdel Rahman Shahin, Healthy Ministry spokesperson told Daily News Egypt.
Shahin did confirm, however, an increase in the fees pharmaceutical companies will pay to the ministry when they make official requests to import medicines, medical equipment or build a factory, for example.
The increase, he said, will not affect the average consumer in any way and will only affect private pharmaceutical companies.
The current fees, he said, are not sufficient to fund the development that the private medical sector is undergoing as well as the medical supplies purchased over the past years.
Shahin said that the fee increase is also meant to limit the number of requests filed to the ministry, since there are currently over 20,000 different medical products available on the market.
The fees are also meant to improve medical services offered to the public as well as institutions that monitor the health sector in Egypt, he added.
“The prices of medicine are set and no authority has the right or the ability to directly change them. It is a hard and long process for any authority to change those prices, Shahin explained.
On the other hand, Dr Farid Ismail, secretary general of the Medical Professions’ Union and member in the Pharmacists’ Syndicate and the People’s Assembly health committee, told Daily News Egypt that the prices of medicine have increased by as much as 300-500 percent, due to this decision.
He attributed the surge to the insufficiency of the ministry’s budget.
“The total budget of the Ministry of Health is LE 9 billion, 65 percent of which goes to employees’ wages, leaving the ministry with only LE 3 billion, used for funding hospitals and the health sector, Ismail said.
Contrary to Shahin’s statements, Ismail said the move will indeed directly affect “the Egyptian consumer and not pharmacists or the overall industry.
Ismail, who described the decision as “very broad, suggested that the ministry increase prices of medicine used for research purposes rather than medicine consumed by the general public.