DUBAI Feb 3 The United Arab Emirates on Sunday
adopted regulations that will help cut prices of more than 6,600
types of imported medicines by up to 40 percent, state news
agency WAM reported.
The cabinet, at a meeting in Abu Dhabi chaired by Prime
Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, instructed the
Health Ministry to issue a new price list for the medicines and
gave pharmacies three months to adjust their prices, WAM said.
"The new system will cut prices of 6,619 types of medicines
by between one percent and 40 percent," the news agency said.
The new system will also unify medicine prices with other
states in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council and provide
alternative drugs for every type of medicine, including those
prescribed for chronic diseases and other types of illnesses.
Healthcare businesses in the Gulf region are expected to
boom in coming years as rising wealth couples with an increase
in so-called lifestyle diseases - five of the six Gulf nations
are in the global top 10 for prevalence of diabetes, according
to the International Diabetes Federation.
Some 827,000 people between the ages of 20 and 79 have
diabetes in the UAE, according to the Ministry of Health.
Treatment of diabetes accounts for about 40 percent of the
UAE's overall healthcare expenditure, Amin al Amiri, assistant
under-secretary for Medical practice & license at the ministry
of health said.
The move is unlikely to have much impact on inflation in the
UAE, the second-largest Arab economy, as health accounts for
just over 1 percent of the overall index, analysts said.
Annual inflation eased to 0.7 percent in 2012, the lowest
level since 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait starting the Gulf War,
from 0.9 percent in previous two years. Analysts polled by
Reuters in January forecast UAE consumer price growth
accelerating to 1.8 percent this year.