“The collapse of the drug mafia has begun in Lebanon,” caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan said on Thursday, following a series of raids on pharmacies and pharmaceutical warehouses.
The smuggling of medicinal drugs from Lebanon has been a major problem in the crisis-stricken country, the pharmaceutical industry of which is already facing rationing and monopoly.
The raids uncovered a pharmacy that was hoarding 8,000 units of Colchicine, which is a medication used to treat gout attacks and Behçet’s disease.
Several pharmacies that were found to be smuggling crucial medicines out of Lebanon were ordered to close down afterward.
The Thursday raids preceded a surprise inspection of a pharmaceutical warehouse in Baabda on Friday, after which caretaker Minister Hasan vowed to take all judicial measures to prevent medicine smuggling.
“I contacted Judge Ghada Aoun and Judge Ali Ibrahim, and we agreed to take all judicial measures to secure medicine for people and take immediate measures against every perpetrator and anyone who tampers with the citizens’ health,” he said.
“The collapse of the drug mafia has begun in Lebanon,” Hasan had declared the day prior, adding that “pharmacies that cannot justify quantities they are selling and the party to which they were sold to will be closed.”
The smuggling and monopoly of medicine in Lebanon comes at a critical time during which many people are stockpiling drugs in preparation for the anticipated lifting of their subsidy by the central bank, which would cause their prices to skyrocket.
Even before the subsidy is lifted, today, many vital drugs have gone missing from local pharmacies as a result of pharmaceutical companies withholding them with the intention of making illicit profits when the subsidy ends.