Shock as Qatar medicines jump 25 per cent in price

May 24, 2011

Prices of several medicines have shot up by up to 25 per cent in Qatar, apparently following the lifting of government control over retail pricing.

The sharp hike has come as a rude shock to customers, particularly after the authorities had promised a drop in the prices with the implementation of new laws that aim to liberalise medicine imports and remove state control over pricing, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported.

Enquiries with pharmacies revealed that most medicines had become more expensive by between 10 and 25 per cent over the past two days.

“We got fresh stocks of medicines two days ago with increased prices. They have gone up considerably,” a pharmacist said.

A packet of Lipitor (10mg), a popular pill used for treating cholesterol that cost QR163.75 earlier is now priced at QR219.

Similarly, a packet of Norvasc (5mg), a tablet to treat hypertension, has gone up from QR85.50 to QR92. Januvia (100mg), another anti-diabetes pill that cost QR323.75 earlier, is now selling for QR400.

The prices of several antibiotic medicines have also shot up. For instance, a packet of Augmentin that earlier cost QR140 is now priced QR154.

Price fixing

The Pharmacy and Drug Control Department at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) seems to have stopped fixing the prices with the issuance of new laws.

Earlier, the retailers were getting the stocks from wholesalers with the prices printed on each pack of medicines. Retail outlets were bound to keep the printed prices fixed by the Pharmacy and Drug Control Department.

However, now wholesalers issue the price lists to the retailers showing the wholesale and retail prices of each product.

Blank stickers

“There are stickers on medicine packets, but they are blank so the retailers are free to fix the prices based on the prices shown on the lists issued by the wholesalers,” a retailer told The Peninsula.

“There is a lot of confusion about the new system. We do not know whether we are free to fix prices on our own. Currently, we are following the prices based on the price list issued by the wholesalers,” he said.

He said many customers were upset by the sudden hike in the prices.

“People are not convinced by our explanations and we have to show the wholesalers’ price lists to them,” the retailer said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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