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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Pharma producers, gov’t disagree over how to define a chronic illness

How do you define a chronic illness? Pharma producers are facing another disagreement with the Health Ministry over which medications will be allowed to rise in price, Al Masry Al Youm reported. As part of the agreement that resolved the impasse, the Ministry stipulated that it will only increase the prices of medications that treat non-chronic illnesses but did not specify what they were. When the companies sought clarification, they were told to consider any illness that takes requires a course of treatment longer than 15 days to be chronic. A source says pharma producers view this definition as “catastrophic” as it would practically freeze the prices of all medications except for those treating common colds, saying the government’s definition renders medications for cases of hay fever, for example, listed as those treating a chronic disease. The producers are expecting the government to define clearly the list of treatments it will allow their prices to increase. The cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center has already issued a statement guaranteeing the public that prices of treatments of chronic diseases will not be increased, but that statement also did not specify the medications.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Pharmaceutical Trading Company issued a decision to reduce the number of each medicine pharmacies are allowed to sell, setting the limit at 50 units per product, according to Al Mal. The move is an attempt to address the low supply of locally produced meds, and does not apply to imported products, the company’s spokesman said.

In other news from the pharma industry, Ahram Online is reporting that members of the Pharmacists’ Syndicate plan to strike in mid-January in protest of “what they described as ‘the random pricing policy’ for medicines.” The story notes that “urgent general assembly of the Pharmacists Syndicate” (they’re always urgent, aren’t they?) voted “for a partial closure of pharmacies from 9am until 3pm for two weeks starting from 15 January.”

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