As part of its efforts to support and assist the business community, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a special roundtable meeting to discuss challenges impacting the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector at its head office recently.
The meeting of representatives of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Equipment Traders Group, which operates under the umbrella of Dubai Chamber, was headed by Mr. Atiq Juma Nasib, Senior Director, Commercial Services Sector, Dubai Chamber, and was attended by Dr. Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for Medical Practices and Licensing at the Ministry of Health, and Mr. Mohammad Khalid Al Daour, Chairman, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Equipment Traders Group.
On behalf of Dubai Chamber, Mr. Nasib expressed his thanks and appreciation to Ministry of Health officials for attending the special meeting and listening to and discussing the issues raised by representatives of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Equipment Traders Group. He also informed that this special meeting served the purpose of Dubai Chamber in creating a conducive atmosphere to discuss issues faced by the business sector while also to promote the overall business environment in the emirate.
The issue raised by the representatives of the business group was the fixing of profit margins which they said severely affected their operational costs. They also raised the issue of the abolition of discounts which is also referred to as a ‘bonus’ from medicine suppliers to private pharmacies.
The representatives of the pharmaceutical sector also urged the Ministry to support their sector, which is made up of 70% small and medium sized pharmacies, and called for finding a framework for the increase in profit margins to help cover the sector’s operational costs.
Dr. Al Amiri responded by stating that the Ministry of Health is very keen to provide all support to attract investments to the pharmaceutical sector as well as to find ways to streamline the regulations which may hinder the smooth functioning and growth of this important sector.
He further stated that the fixing of profit margins of up to 44% between suppliers and pharmacies aimed to make medicine available to everyone, especially those with low incomes, and came in line with the resolution of the GCC Council of Health which has stated that the profit margin should not exceed the stipulated percentage.
Dr. Al Amiri pointed out that the UAE is one of the fastest countries in registering and pricing of medicines and is also one of the first countries to adopt the drug price reduction initiative directly from pharmaceutical companies, with price reduction percentages ranging between 10% to 55%.
He also informed that over 680 types of medicines were subjected to price reductions by the end of 2011 and that his Ministry is planning to come up with new initiatives and plans in the future.
He assured the gathering of the Ministry’s plans to support the sector and urged the sector representatives to approach the Ministry for all their concerns at any given time. The doors of the Ministry are always open to the representatives of the pharmaceutical sector to voice their concerns which will be immediately looked into, added Dr. Al Amiri.
The attendees agreed to have a follow-up meeting soon at the Dubai Chamber premises.