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Sudan: Pharmacies swept up in high drug prices

November 22 - 2016 KHARTOUM
In Omdurman, women protested against the economic measures on Monday.
In Omdurman, women protested against the economic measures on Monday.

In an attempt to curb the price increases for medicines in Sudan, pharmacies called on Khartoum to consider its moral duties and turn back the recent austerity measures. The value of the Pound continues to plummet against the US Dollar.

On Monday, the pharmacies’ division of consumer protection made its demand to undo the liberalisation of the fuel market and the US Dollar rate and return the subsidies on medicines, following a symposium with the Health Ministry on Sunday evening. The Ministry declared not to agree to the demands.

The chairman of the Private Pharmacies Association, Nasri Morgos described the decision as “not thoughtful, and not putting the patient health as top priority”. He predicted that this situation will cause a negative impact on the economy, and lead to people expressing their opposition against such decisions.

The Health Ministry has strongly defended the liberalisation of the drugs market. At a symposium hosted by the Professional Union of Pharmacists in Khartoum on Sunday, the Ministry made it clear that the central government's position on medicine prices 'moves according to the currency exchange, in addition to practical measures for kidney, cancer and children patients'.

The Ministry has referred to the National Council for Drug and Poison as being responsible for the pricing of medicines.

Drugs import halted

A pharmacist in Khartoum told Radio Dabanga that prices of medicines have doubled or more, adding that pharmaceutical companies have stopped the import of medicines. “I have not received any supply of medicines from any company for 13 days in a row.”

'Pharmaceutical companies may soon decide to end all their activities next year.'

The prices of medicines started to increase quickly after 4 November, when new economic measures lifted the subsidies on fuel. Many life-saving medicines have disappeared from the shelves of many pharmacies in Khartoum while a number of companies have stopped selling and transporting medicines.

The pharmacist said he feared that pharmaceutical companies will start the liquidation of all their activities by the beginning of the new year. He questioned out loud what the people in Sudan will do when they cannot obtain their medicines.

According to a Sudanese newspaper released on Sunday, three depressed brothers committed suicide as their family could not afford to buy their medicines anymore.

Dollar rate

On Monday the US Dollar rate showed a new rise against the Sudanese Pound, amounting to SDG 18.2 in Khartoum's parallel markets. Currency traders told newspapers that they expect a rise to SDG 20 within two weeks.

This month the Central Bank of Sudan implemented an incentive policy that lifts the exchange rate in commercial banks and automatic teller machines by 131 per cent. This made the Dollar exchange rate jump to SDG 15.8, from the official rate of SDG 6.5. The measure has not curbed the rise, however.

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