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Damascus: medicine crisis ahead of US 'Caesar' sanctions

Local | 2020-06-06 18:27:00
 Damascus: medicine crisis ahead of US 'Caesar' sanctions
   Zaman Al Wasl
(Zaman Al Wasl)- The Syrian Pharmacists Association on Saturday has denounced Health Minister's claims that denies lack of medicine ahead of new US sanctions.

Dr. Nizar Yazji equally claims that any shortage in pharmaceutical materials should be attributed solely to the Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act.

The Syndicate of Pharmacists in Damascus, Alia Al-Assad, confirmed today, that there is, indeed, a great shortage in medicines, especially generic drugs, and that some items and supplies are lacking despite their presence on the ministry's official price lists.

Analysts said concerns over the June 17 implementation of the US Caesar Act, which aims to sanction foreign persons who assist the Syrian government or help in post-war reconstruction, also contributed to the de fact devaluation, AFP reported.

Al-Assad contacted the factories in order to cover the shortcomings they have in the union's warehouse and in order to be able to provide the market’s needs. However, they were only provided with two pieces of the same item in each pharmacy. “This”, said Al- Assad, “is not remotely enough to cover all the needs”.

Since 2009, the pharmacist's profit margin has not exceeded 9%. The crisis that the pharmacies witnessed, unfortunately, had lasting repercussions on the pharmacological reality in Syria. According to the syndicate, however, any complaint about a pharmacist's illegal storage of any type of medicine is immediately addressed by the union if a solid proof is provided.

"The pharmaceutical factories need raw materials from abroad (China or India), and we know how deeply the Corona pandemic has affected the movement of trade, and how it destabilized the exchange rates. We, as an association, take our work seriously in prioritizing the interests of citizens. Even in the critical absence of medicines, we will insist on working through the problems.” Continued the Syndicate. 

The Minister of Health, Yazji, claims that the system bears the burden of supporting the funding of these factories' imports of raw, essential materials and other supplies. He equally denies the shortage of any medicinal substance claiming that there may be a lack in certain commercial items but which can certainly be substituted.  He pointed out that "drug stores will be regulated through a regular bill checkup, securing, in that way, the warehouse’s monthly needs of medicines."

The minister’s decision came as a response to criticisms launched by the pro-Assad regime themselves against their own government. 

They denounced the fact that pharmacies in Syria are empty and lacking in medical supplies and that the drug industry is crashing down after many factories stopped working. They also condemn the fact that raw medical supplies are being sold to smuggling gangs for the production of drugs. 

After nine years of war, Syria is in the thick of an economic crisis compounded by a coronavirus lockdown and a dollar liquidity crunch in neighboring Lebanon.

Last month, the central bank warned it would clamp down on currency "manipulators".

Zaman Al Wasl
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