President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, chaired a meeting devoted to tackle the drug crisis, after the decision issued to lift 75% of medicine subsidies, and keep support only on essential medicines.
The meeting was attended by Prime Minister, Dr. Hassan Diab, Head of the Syndicate of Pharmacists in Lebanon, Dr. Ghassan Al-Amin, Representatives of companies, Carole Hassoun, Marie-Therese Sawaya, Rowad Jebrayel, President of the Syndicate of Pharmaceutical Importers, Karim Gebara, Mrs. Carole Abi Karam, Nabil Gharib and Tarek Tabbara.
Also attending were, former Minister, Salim Jreisatti, Director General of the Presidency, Dr. Antoine Choucair, and the Premier’s Advisor for health affairs, Dr. Petra Khoury.
At the beginning, the President emphasized the necessity of addressing the causes which led to the crisis of medicines, “Since the safety of citizens takes priority in all treatments, and it is not allowed to harm health security, which is equally important to safety in other fields such as security, economy, education and others”.
President Aoun pointed out the need to reach procedures in coordination between various stakeholders to secure medicine in Lebanon for citizens and reduce the existing crisis, starting with the Health Ministry to pharmacies, drug importers, representatives of drug manufacturing companies and agents of international companies.
For his side, the Prime Minister addressed the needs to tackle the cost of medicine and evaluate the measures taken so far under the title of maintaining the importance of securing medicine on an ongoing basis, and cooperation between all sectors concerned with medicine. In addition, Prime Minister Diab emphasized the need to focus on the topics of studying drug pricing and parallel import, pointing out to the need to reach practical solutions.
On the other hand, the Health Minister presented the measures taken by his Ministry and the procedures which are supposed to be adopted to ensure the continuation of securing medicines. Minister Hasan also explained some of the difficulties facing the ministry’s work in securing medicine on an ongoing basis, including the BDL’s setting a limit of 50 million US Dollars per month of drug subsidies.
To that, the meeting discussed a series of proposals which would address the crisis, in coordination between the Health Ministry and representatives of concerned authorities participating in the meeting, aiming to secure medication permanently for citizens according to standards which take into account the laws and regulations which especially guarantee the safety, effectiveness and durability of all medicaments.
After the meeting, the following statement was issued:
1-Participants expressed the necessity that the Central Bank commits to scheduling the dues for the benefit of importing companies, including raw materials for the local industry, which are accumulated since the beginning of 2021.
2-The drug policy, and its future, are closely linked to the BDL’s commitment to subsidize the amount of 50 million US Dollars per month.
3-Emergency and parallel import within quality standards and regulations in force through the approved technical committees, at a rapid pace, which is one of the means of solving this issue.
4-Maintaining the relationship based on the history of trust with international pharmaceutical companies.
5-The local pharmaceutical industry and its activation are an urgent necessity in both national and economic senses, within the context of adopting a productive economic approach.
6-Seeking to find a patient subsidy fund from international bodies.
7-Working on dispensing subsidized drugs through the automated drug card, and the project is funded by international companies.