By Nigar Orujova
The Azerbaijani government has decided to strengthen state control over the pharmaceutical market in the country in an effort to regulate this important social segment of economy.
The Tariff Council has reduced prices for over 250 names of medicines on July 30, which will ultimately cut overall prices in the market.
During the first phase, prices were confirmed on more than 250 of the most popular and essential brands for 25 medicines. The new prices for these medicines will come into force from September 15. A list of these medicines is available on the Council’s website.
State regulation will reduce the price of medicines more than two or three times, Shahin Mustafayev, Economy and Industry Minister and Chairman of the Tariff Council, said in an interview in the official press.
"First and foremost, in accordance with the instructions of President Ilham Aliyev, the Tariff Council considerably reduced the cost of medicines. Thus, the costs of 20 percent of medicines has fallen by more than three times, more than 40 percent of medicines are now cheaper by more than twice,” he noted.
The prices of 90 percent of medicines so far have lowered, while the rest remain unchanged, the Minister said.
Mustafayev noted that price controls will ensure transparency and every citizen will then know the exact price of medicines.
“In general, the regulation of prices for the bulk of medicines will be completed by the end of this year,” said Mustafayev.
"Regulation of prices for medicine will allow citizens to purchase it in all pharmacies and at the same and optimized prices. Thus, the issue of artificial price increases are removed. In addition, the cost of medicines would be also available not only on packaging, but also at the relevant websites and in the media, which will allow increasing public control over prices,” the minister explained.
“At the same time, these reforms would reduce costs for citizens who need medications, strengthen state regulation of the medical products market, and create additional opportunities to address tax evasion.”
“On the other hand, it will reduce expenditures of the state budget, and will contribute to the insurance system by reducing the cost of insurance companies. Finally, importers will be forced to import medicines at more affordable prices, and competition among pharmacies will proceed from price into quality, which ultimately lead to improved quality of services,” Mustafayev stressed.
He also noted that the control of medicine prices would be provided by the relevant government agencies for monitoring and inspections.
Legal measures will be taken against companies that do not indicate prices on the medicines or if the drugs are sold at higher prices than was approved.
In addition, the Minister said the controls would extend not only for prices but also for quality.
He noted that the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers and the Tariff Council does not limit the import of medicines into the country.
“Under existing law, any drug, regardless of the country of manufacture, after registration by the Health Ministry can be imported into the country. The new solutions, in turn, regulate the selling prices of medicines,” he said.
He added that currently the country has registered more than 4,500 brands of more than 20,000 types of medicine. The number of medicines with regulated prices will increase in the future.
Medicines prices are compared with their minimum prices in at least 10 countries, which means that the process of regulating costs takes time. For this reason, the government has chosen to start with regulating essential pharmaceuticals first.
At the same time, the Minister noted that after each drug is approved, the information will be posted in the media, on the website of the Economy and Industry Ministry (www.economy.gov.az), the Tariff Council (www.tariff.gov.az) as well as on a special website of the Health Ministry (www.pharma.az).
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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