By Nigar Orujova
Medicine prices are expected to spike again following the CBA’s decision to free the national currency, the manat.
The burden for consumers, who are already disappointed with the second devaluation of the manat on December 21, may increase, as the country imports the most part of its medicines, which mean the unconditional rise of prices in the future.
Deputy Health Minister Elsever Agayev assured that new prices for medicines will be lower than they were last year. However, Agayev added that overall the rise in prices is inevitable.
The manat that has already lost 34 percent of its value in February, now costs even less. The official exchange rate of US dollar and euro to Azerbaijani manat was set at 1.5523 manats and 1.6978 manats, respectively on December 23. This difference in rate will be filled with the price rise, consumers believe.
The country has launched a project on regulating the prices of medicines from September 15. The Tariff Council has already approved the prices of 3,540 kinds of medicines.
Agayev said that the Health Ministry has not yet appealed to the Tariff Council about rising medicines prices, but entrepreneurs directed such an appeal.
The Tariff Council will soon hold a meeting to reconsider the prices, and a decision will be made on what percentage the price of medicines will increase.
However, the deputy minister remains optimistic. “The new prices will be lower than the prices of the previous year, because prices for many medicines reduced several times during the year.”
In case of artificially high drug prices at pharmacies, violators will be subject to high penalties.
“A new Code of Administrative Offences will be adopted soon, providing fines in the amount of 40,000-50,000 manats ($25,744-$32,180) for legal entities that artificially inflate the cost of drugs,” said Agayev.
In addition to the price rise, population may soon face the shortage of some medicines, as due to the rise in prices the sale of certain drugs may be limited.
Agayev stressed that the Health Ministry together with the Ministry of Economy and Industry is trying to fill the gap not to suspend the sale of medicines.
Reminding that hospital have a stock of medicines, he added that public hospitals will not face any problem.
But, there is a possibility that private hospitals will increase prices on their services. Private medical institutions are operating in accordance with the legislation, he added, and if prices for certain supplies are changed, it is likely that they will revise prices for their services.
At present, 57 percent of medicines registered in Azerbaijan are produced in Europe, 26 percent in the CIS countries, including 12 percent made in Russia. A small share of medicines is produced in Asian countries.
The country has registered more than 4,500 brands of more than 20,000 types of medicine. The number of cost-controlled pharmaceuticals will increase in the future.
All medicines imported to Azerbaijan are examined before reaching pharmacies and hospitals. The country bans the import of medicines into the country without a license, permission, or other relevant documents.
Along with medicines, prices for most of the imported products are also expected to rise.