0727 GMT July 05, 2022
A member of the Iranian Parliament dismissed as “illogical” to say that medicine prices should not rise following the elimination of the government subsidy allocated in the form of cheap foreign currency resources to importers.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily, Yahya Ebrahimi, who is also a member of the Parliament’s Health and Treatment Committee and a cardiologist, added that when in the previous Iranian calendar year, which ended on March 20, the issue of phasing out the government subsidy on medicine imports was being discussed in the legislative body, it was suggested that the process should be undertaken gradually and, firstly, with regard to unessential drugs.
The MP said the Parliament had predicted that close to $9 million would be allocated for importing essential drugs and goods, adding that in an open session it was approved to earmark $8.33 for the purpose.
The fund helped enable the government to supply essential goods to the domestic market, Ebrahimi noted.
Up until April, no fund had been allocated to the Health Ministry for drug imports, he regretted, saying in view of the constant follow-ups by the Parliament’s Health and Treatment Committee, the ministry received $1 billion for the purpose, which was distributed among the country’s pharmaceutical companies.
However, the lawmaker said, realistically speaking, the increase in medicine prices is inevitable and will normally take place within three to six months after the new raw materials purchased at higher prices are imported.
He noted that a large number of domestic companies have not yet received the subsidy and thus, “we are faced with problems for importing raw materials”.
This comes as pharmaceutical firms have also been obliged to raise their staff’s salaries by 57 percent in the current year, which has, per se, led to an exorbitant rise in medical items’ prices, Ebrahimi added.
He said to prevent the hikes in medicine prices, subsidies can be granted to domestic insurance companies to enable them to improve the level of their services, the health sector’s capacities can be expanded and the treatment costs can be reduced.
The lawmaker said if provincial health and treatment projects, such as Niayesh Hospital, which is currently under construction in the western province of Lorestan, become operational sooner, a great contribution will be made to the sector.
Earlier, Homayoun Sameyah Najafabadi, the representative of the Jewish community in Parliament and a Health and Treatment Committee member, told Iran Daily that the legislative body has stressed that if the administration phases out the foreign currency subsidy allocated for medicine imports, it will have to simultaneously develop the required insurance infrastructure in an effort to prevent pressure on patients.
He added that since March 2021, extensive discussions have been held on the elimination of the drug imports’ subsidy and the possible consequent hikes in prices.
The former administration, under ex-president Hassan Rouhani, refrained from cutting the subsidy, the MP said.