Sunday,17 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1331, (9 - 15 February 2017)
Sunday,17 February, 2019
Issue 1331, (9 - 15 February 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Strike off

Pharmacists called off their planned strike after reaching an agreement with the Health Ministry

Strike off
Strike off

The Pharmacists Syndicate announced on 5 February the cancelling of a strike planned for 12 February. The strike was called off after the Ministry of Health and Population agreed to the syndicate’s demands after a prolonged meeting between Health Minister Ahmed Emadeddin Radi and head of the syndicate Mohi Ebeid as well as other syndicate members.

Ahmed Abu Douma, the spokesman for the Pharmacists Syndicate, said the syndicate had scrapped the strike after an agreement was reached with the government in a meeting with Radi.

The syndicate had threatened to hold a partial strike on 15 January after the ministry announced on 12 January an increase in the price of 3,000 medications out of 12,000 currently available on the market, including medication prescribed to treat chronic illnesses.

The syndicate had argued that price hikes in medication should not go into effect without an order from the Health Ministry which would oblige companies to withdraw from the market all expired medicine that threatens the health of patients.

“The demands were finally met after disputes between the ministry and the syndicate continued for several months,” Abu Douma said.

According to Abu Douma, Radi agreed to implement pricing decree No 499 of 2012 on drugs whose cost doubled, once in May 2016, then January 2017. He added that the minister was considering applying the decree to all drugs within six months.

Pricing decree No 499 was announced by the Ministry of Health to regulate medicinal prices for both foreign and domestic pharmaceutical companies. The decree also set a profit margin of 15 per cent for imported medicines and 23 per cent for those exported. Pharmaceutical companies have not responded to the decree.

Radi announced in a press conference that he had accepted all of the syndicate’s demands. These include obliging companies for one year to withdraw all medicine that had expired without being allowed to set conditions or restrictions on which types of medicine they withdraw. The syndicate had previously complained that pharmaceutical companies never take back expired medicine.

The minister also agreed to re-activate ministerial decree No 2000 which ensures the right of the Pharmacists Syndicate and its branches in other governorates to approve licences for pharmacies. According to the syndicate’s statement, Radi said he appreciated the role that pharmacists play in healthcare and affirmed that the ministry will not harm the profession.

“The ministry and the syndicate also agreed to coordinate on all future problems as they arise before they escalate into strikes,” Abu Douma said.

The decision by the Central Bank of Egypt to float the Egyptian pound against the dollar in November last year exasperated a medication shortage in Egypt of essential drugs and led to drastic price increases. Many companies have struggled to import certain types of medicines and material in the wake of the hike of the dollar and its instability to the rate of the Egyptian pound.

On 15 January all pharmacies decided to close daily from 9am to 3pm for two weeks except for one pharmacy in each district.

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