Pharmacists heed govt warning on US$ pricing

PHARMACEUTICAL companies yesterday said they had heeded government’s directive to stop demanding hard currency for drugs, but pleaded with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to consistently allocate them adequate foreign currency to ensured smooth supply of imported drugs and other materials.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the weekend warned that pharmacies charging in foreign currency risked cancellation of their licences.

Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) president Portifa Mwendera said most retail pharmacies had complied with the directive.

He said pharmacies had resorted to charging in hard currency as the last resort since suppliers were also demanding payment in foreign currency.

“It is a supply chain issue and government had the critical role to allocate forex to that supply chain, which it has regrettably failed to do consistently. This led to the industry incurring a debt of $27 million for credit supplies, which are now overdue,” he said.

“Further supplies without this debt overhang became a challenge until importers started asking for forex to fund further receipts into the country, and the only way of getting that forex was from the patients since government had failed to provide.”

“The challenge in ensuring that a position has been carried out throughout the chain comes from the high number of outlets around, but we also rely on patients’ feedback as we mainly work on peer review,” he said.

Mwendera said they were also concerned by the apparent neglect of pharmacy services in public sector facilities, which has seen private pharmacies emerging as the providers of essential medicines.

“The current scenario was never meant to be and should not be, if we are to ensure that access to health is guaranteed. The government is meant to provide medicines to the public through the pharmacy units that are available at all public health facilities – clinics, district hospitals, provincial hospitals and central hospitals, including council clinics,” Mwendera said.

Early this year, health workers downed tools demanding the provision of adequate equipment and drugs in public health institutions.

Mwendera said the current scenario where this exercise has been delegated to the private sector needs government to then provide adequate foreign currency for the necessary importations – just as they do for fuel and wheat – for effective delivery.

“An allocation of US$5 million in this fourth quarter cannot meet a fortnight’s medicine requirements for the nation,” he said.

Fortune Nyamande of the Doctors for Human Rights Association said, while they agreed totally that drugs must be available at accessible prices and in local currency, it was prudent for fiscal authorities to ensure adequate and constant supplies of foreign currency to the pharmaceutical sector.

“What we are witnessing currently as an endless back and forth between government and the retail pharmaceutical sector is very unfortunate. Patients are defaulting chronic condition medications, worsening the quality of life and increasing morbidity and mortality,” Nyamande said.

7 Comments

  1. yes pharmacies heeded the government call as drugs are now available in bond and rtgs but the rates being used are unreasonable and the government must now focus on the pricing which is still out of reach of the poor and were there is resistance arrest and throw those unwillingly to tore the line behind bars

    1. how will they sell drugs to the nation behind bars?

  2. How sustainable is this, given that the government pharmacies folded because of lack of support from these authorities who now demand price controls in private pharmacies ? If pharmacies comply with this junta directive, then woo to Zimbabwe, because we will only have drugs for another week or two. After this, even those with forex won’t have access to drugs.

    The government should have provided drugs in the public sector and let market forces control drug prices in private pharmacies. What they have done will lead to closures of pharmacies. Given the 2019 parasitic budget a number of companies that close before year-end will not re-open next year, it’s just economics. Countries like Malawi (with less educated people have 6 months forex reserves)show us that we do not benefit from our “education”.
    Watch man how much longer the night? (Isaiah 21vs 11)

  3. @Hatchet – day by day all those countries we call “less educated” have better leaders who are more patriotic than the crop in Zimbabwe. It is shameless, heartless and very diabolical. Maybe a side-effect of the “warrior” mentality?…Guns & dripping blood seems a pastime.

  4. My local pharmacy offered us a ‘special deal’ on my wife’s medication needs at ‘only’usd 6 each unit, the same product retails in Nairobi Kenya at the equivalent of usd 2,50 cts!We bought supplies from there recently. We are being ripped off in any and every currency!

  5. Prosperity mzila

    President Mnangagwa took a stern step toward addressing the abuse of patients by pharmacists, it had become so dear to buy one’s medicines. Pharmacists were now taking advantage of the sick to profiteer, using the sick to acquire foreign currency on the black market for them. Dispeacable. Thamk u Mr President the sick now have hope and relief.

  6. The problem with pharmacies is the pricing which is too high they are charging 1USD equal to 5 bond. I bought drugs costing 19USD and the equivalent in bond was 95 bond. So the government must also look at the pricing because ordinary citizens and pensioners cannot afford these high unreasonable prices.

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