It’s no secret that the central bank’s subsidy on medicine imports is set to be lifted soon. As for the stocks that are currently available at the subsidized price, they are on the verge of running out, according to caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan.
Lebanon’s current medicine stockpiles will last from two to three months, Hasan said on Tuesday, adding that he was working with the Banque du Liban (BDL) to secure supplies that would last an additional 3 months.
He also requested that the central bank speeds up the transactions that provide subsidized dollars for the importers of pharmaceutical drugs and the raw materials necessary for their production.
The head of the Syndicate of Pharmaceutical Importers, Karim Gebara, has revealed that the BDL’s transactions to importers are usually taking two months to process.
This is because, as a BDL source previously told The Daily Star, “we have thousands of files we need to process. We need to make the necessary verifications for each invoice to make sure they have not been duplicated.”
Naturally, this causes a delay in shipping while the available stocks continue to fade away.
In the meantime, caretaker Minister Hasan is calling for the distribution of the present stocks to be “rationalized” in a way that allows citizens’ needs to be met until the end of the year.
This comes a week after the Health Ministry’s crackdown on pharmacies and pharmaceutical warehouses that were discovered to have been hoarding and smuggling medicine out of Lebanon.