The Pharmacists Syndicate held a general assembly on Friday in which it decided to partially strike starting mid-January. All participating pharmacies will close for six hours each day in opposition to the government’s decision to not increase profit margins for pharmacies.
The Ministry of Health had previously recommended that the government increase profit margins for pharmaceutical companies. As per their recommendations, locally produced medication could carry a profit margin of 25%, while profits on imported medication should not exceed 18%.
The syndicate will also be striking in opposition to the apparently arbitrary policies of pharmaceutical companies to recall expired medication.
The parliament’s Health Committee advised pharmacists not to escalate the situation because it will only hurt the citizenry. The committee also recommended pharmacists reach an agreement with the Health Ministry.
The syndicate sent on Wednesday an official letter to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, demanding he prevent any potential price increases for medication. The letter said Al-Sisi has to intervene in case the Health Ministry decides to raise prices.
The syndicate further demanded the establishment of a committee under the supervision of the president to include all the institutions concerned with manufacturing medicine in Egypt to control the cost of medication.
The syndicate said that according to the Constitution, the ministry has to involve it in any talks that involve potential price increases in medication. It also added that any increases without detailed accurate studies and thorough discussions with the syndicate and its members may be a sign the medicine companies are looking to maximise their profits at the expense of the citizens.
The market has suffered from an acute shortage of imported medication amid the decision of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to float the Egyptian pound early in November. The decision led to a significant increase in the cost of importing and producing medication.