Qatar imposes cap on medicine prices

September 27, 2011

Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health (SCH) is putting a ceiling on the prices of all imported medicines and other pharmaceutical products distributed by a leading wholesaler in the country to check an unreasonable price hike imposed by the company over the past few months.

The SCH’s decision to impose a 20 percent cap on price hike is expected to take down the prices of several popular medicines, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Tuesday.

Under the move, the dealer is also required to print the prices of each medicine on the packet so that the retailers can follow it. The wholesaler is allowed to hike the prices by a maximum of 10 percent, while the retailer can also have a similar share of the increase.

Any increase exceeding a total 20 percent will have to be revoked, SCH sources said. A SCH statement quoted by the Qatar News Agency (QNA) yesterday announcing the decision, however, has not given details on how the old and new prices would be calculated.

Prices of various medicines have gone up by up to 50 per cent after the government lifted control over pricing, triggering a public outcry, with many nationals and expatriates calling on the government to intervene.

The decision to impose a ceiling on price hike has been taken by the Permanent Licensing Committee (PLC) at SCH after it concluded that the price increase was “unjustifiable,” according to the SCH statement. The law allows the authorities to put a ceiling on prices of medicines and other pharmaceutical products as well as the profits of the companies dealing in such products.

A set of new laws implemented recently had lifted government control over pricing, liberalised imports and ended exclusive dealerships of medicines. Although the SCH has singled out one distributor in its decision, the ceiling would apparently apply to all distributors, the daily said.

Enquiries in the market have revealed that a leading company that distributes about 30 percent of the medicines was mainly responsible for the price hike. Other distributors have also hiked their prices, but not to the extent done by the company. Retailers say that wholesalers, who were responsible for the price hike, were also its major beneficiaries. “For us only the prices have changed.

Our profit margin remains more or less the same. In fact, we are faced with a lower demand for the medicines due to the high prices,” a pharmacist 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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