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28 May 2024

Weak dollar hits the cost of branded drugs

By Staff Writer



The Ministry of Health has ruled out cuts to the spiralling cost of medicine triggered by the continuing strength of the euro against the dollar.


Many countries are being flooded with so-called generic alternatives to branded medication. However, newer drugs to the market are protected and traded between countries using dollars.


Most expensive drugs in the UAE are produced by European firms under the terms of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights policy.


Under this policy, the original manufacturer of a drug has the sole right to produce and distribute a patented medicine for up to 20 years.


Dr Issa Al Mansouri, director of the ministry’s Drug Control Department and deputy chairman of the Drug Pricing Committee, told Emirates Business: “It is now difficult to make any real reductions in the prices of costly drugs. If these drugs were generic, their prices would have fallen, such as we’ve seen with drugs exported by Asian and US companies. These companies use the dollar in their transactions, unlike European firms.”


Al Mansouri was speaking on the sidelines of the third international conference on psychological health in general medicine, in Abu Dhabi.


Doctors raised the issue of the recent unprecedented rise in the price of drugs and its impact on patients with mental diseases who had stopped taking their medication because they could no longer afford it. In some countries, the cost of drugs has risen by up to four times the rate of inflation.


Dr Al Zein Omara, consultant and head of psychiatry at Abu Dhabi’s Al Noor Hospital, highlighted the impact rising prices have had on the overall cost of treatment. He said factors such as war, violence and the rising cost of living have contributed to a rise in psychological diseases in the region.