Medicine importers in Lebanon have completely stopped distributing medicinal drugs to pharmacies, Ghassan Al-Amin, head of the Order of Pharmacists in Lebanon, has announced.
“Importers have completely stopped the delivery of medicines, and we are facing a crisis of subsidized and unsubsidized medicines,” Al-Amin told MTV on Thursday.
For this problem to be solved, Al-Amin said, the state’s subsidy of medicine needs to be lifted.
Pharmacists have been calling for the lifting of the medicine subsidy for weeks, including last week when they announced an open strike, saying they could no longer serve patients until the Health Ministry approves a price index, a pricing table, and until pharmacies receive protection from security forces.
A day later, caretaker Health Minister Hamad Hasan announced that the subsidy of medicines priced lower than 12,000 Lebanese pounds and available at primary healthcare centers would be lifted.
However, the medicine crisis has yet to end. Earlier this week, Ghassan Al-Amin revealed that 60% – 70% of medicines were unavailable in pharmacies in Lebanon.
In addition to the financial crisis, rampant smuggling has severely impacted the availability of medicine in the local market.
Hoarding, prompted by concerns about the future availability of certain drugs, has also contributed to the dangerous shortages.
Patients who depend on certain medicines for survival are now at even higher risk. Children suffering from cancer are among them. Medications critical to their treatment are lacking in the centers and hospitals, which has compelled the Children’s Cancer Center (CCCL) to issue a cry for help this week.