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SocietyPharmaceuticals price soar by over 40%

Pharmaceuticals price soar by over 40%

The price of medical and pharmaceutical items soared by at least 40 percent over the past five months, according to manufacturers, suppliers and pharmacies The Reporter talked to.

Ethiopia fulfills over two third of its medical and pharmaceutical demands by import. Local medical and pharmaceutical factories bridge also need foreign currency to import over 85 pct of the ingredients they need to make medicines and equipment.

Factories are producing at less than 50 percent of their capacity and pharmaceutical and medical equipment importers are closing sown due to shortage of foreign currency. In addition, private pharmacies and medical suppliers are closing down due to lack of access to foreign exchange to import medical and pharmaceuticals.

“We have been importing medicines and medical equipment from India and the United States for years, but our company is shut down six months ago, due to the lack of foreign exchange. We did not import for over a year and finally we are out of the business,” said Hildana Tadesse, a business consultant working for Alfamed Pharmaceuticals and Medicl Equipment.

Pharmacies and medical suppliers have also similar concern.

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“Such an increment is not usual in the sector,” said Hayat Birhanu, sales and pharmacist, at Haven Pharma.

Mohamed Nuri, CEO of Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Sh. Co, a leading local manufacturer in the emerging industry, added that the lack of foreign exchange in the sector is the biggest challenge for local pharmaceutical producers since they heavily rely on imported raw materials.

“The factory is producing less than 50 percent of its capacity due to the fact that foreign exchange is not injected enough for the sector and that is the reason for a 30 to 40 percent of the price augmentation,” Mohamed said.

Officials are also aware of the problem.  

Awel Hassan, Head of Public Relations and Communication at the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Service (PFSS), said the agency imports medical and pharmaceuticals and supply mainly to public health facilities and cannot provide to private pharmacies and hospitals, adding, the rest would be covered by various manufacturers and importers.

 “The agency will support the production of medicines and medical supplies locally,” Awel said, adding shortage of resources has been a major obstacle.

The Agency procures 1020 pharmaceutical products, which it distributes to 5,000 health facilities.

The shortage of local medical supplies is the agency’s challenge and has been forced to import since local factories are not producing to their full capacity, Awelsaid. 

The National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) has re-prioritised its foreign currency allocation on December 1, 2021. The new directive placed medicine, input for manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and laboratory reagents on the list of items listed under the category of first priority.

Ethiopia has imported 26.6 million metric tons of medical and pharmaceuticals in 2020/21 fiscal year, up from 21.3 million metric tons in the previous year. The worth of the import acutely jumped from ETB3 billion to ETB4.4 billion, during the same period.

Medical and Pharmaceuticals worth USD31.7 million were imported through Franco valuta during the fourth quarter of 2020/21 fiscal year, up from USD11.2 million during the previous year.

Contributed by Misganaw Fentaw

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