The UAE's Ministry of Health (MoH) has slashed the prices of 762 drugs for a wide range of diseases from between five and 63 per cent.
The new prices will be applicable on 657 innovative medicines starting September 1, and 105 medicines starting January 1, 2017.
The reduction was part of the 7th and final medicine price reduction initiative that started by the ministry over the past five years.
Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, Assistant Undersecretary for public health policy and licensing at the ministry, said the initiative was taken voluntarily by 39 international pharmaceutical companies, saving up to Dh267 million for patients in one year.
Reductions will mostly cover medicines for cardiovascular diseases (135), central nervous system disorders (115), infections (84), respiratory diseases (72) and endocrine (59). Others include medicines for skin diseases, obstetrics, gynecology and urinary-tract disorders, and gastro-intestinal.
This year's reduction was the second biggest after June 2013 when the prices of 6,791 innovative medicines were slashed. Another big reduction was in 2011 when prices of 565 medicines were reduced.
Al Amiri said the initiative, which started in 2011, reduced the prices of a total of 10,000 innovative drugs.
"The initiative was launched to ease the burden of patients, especially those struggling with chronic diseases that need continuous use of medicines," said Al Amiri.
He added that the initiative worked to align UAE medicine prices with other GCC countries.
"With the great help of international pharmaceutical companies, almost 80 per cent of drug prices are similar to other GCC prices, and the rest of the 20 per cent is .. to support companies' presence and investments and to support their future plan to expand their activities in UAE," noted Al Amiri.
"Therefore, it is a balance between adapting to patients who need our help and supporting investments of pharmaceutical companies in UAE."
Al Amiri noted that further studies on reducing generic medicines will start in January 2017, excluding local manufacturers in support to their products.
"We want to maintain their prices inside and outside the country. That will remain for the benefit of both sides: the local manufacturers at the emirates and the principal companies who signed MoUs between both parties to produce innovative medicines in the emirates."
The ministry will add the new prices on the website and the app starting from August 31. The announcement gave a shorter gap until the implementation day to avoid shortage of drugs in pharmacies that wait for the new prices to be added.
Dr Yacoub Haddad, Chairman, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, Gulf (PhrMAG) said providing medicines with suitable prices for customers and all parties involved in the medical field guarantees the stability of the market and increases investments on a national level.
"The policy that the ministry implemented in the last few years played the biggest impact in attracting international companies to establish scientific offices in the region," said Haddad.
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