Pharmacy chambers blame medical firms for drug shortages
ISTANBULPharmacists and patients are suffering from medicine shortages in the market as medical firms and depots have allegedly suspended the release of goods amid upcoming price hikes due on Feb. 20, after the Health Ministry’s pricing commission announced that it would increase the currency rate for prices of imported medicine.
Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists head Serdar Göksan told daily Cumhuriyet that 90 percent of medicines in the market are imported, meaning that patients are struggling to access nine out of 10 drugs in the market due to the de facto suspension in medicine releases.
“These problems are experienced because firms do not want to release their products before the price hikes,” Göksan said, calling on the Health Ministry to intervene in the crisis.
Early this month, the Price Evaluation Commission announced that it would increase the euro rate for imported medicines from 2.1166 to 2.3421 Turkish Liras, and this decision will be implemented on Feb. 20.
After this decision, Göksan said medicine firms are refraining from releasing their goods to medicine depots, which in turn refrain from releasing them to pharmacies.
“They are doing this because they would rather release the medicines when the prices see hikes,” he said, adding that similar problems were experienced in previous hike periods.
“The biggest problem is that we are dependent on outside sources in the medical [sector]. As long as that remains the case, these problems will always be around,” Göksan said.
The former head of the Istanbul Chamber of Pharmacists, Semih Güngör, said the shortages are particularly acute for antibiotic, painkiller, and blood pressure medicines.
“Cancer and blood drugs are included in the list ... The currency rate is rising rapidly, and the problem of [shortages] will continue for as long as this goes on. The real problem in our country is the fact that the domestic medicine industry is finished. A national medical industry should be reestablished and refortified,” Güngör said.
“In the past the imported medicine rate was 10 percent and 90 percent of medicine was produced in Turkey. Now the import rate has risen above 60 percent,” he added.
Turkish Employer Pharmacists head Nurten Saydan, meanwhile, also denied that pharmacists are responsible for the shortages.
Health Minister Recep Akdağ stated on Jan. 23 that his office was “constantly monitoring the sector” and would apply “strict penalties” if they detect any medicine stocking by companies.