Across Iraq, complaints of the disparity in pricing and irregularity of supply of medicine are widespread.
In an interview with the Iraq International News Agency, a pharmacist in Babylon, who wishes to remain anonymous said “the lack of control over pharmaceutical companies is one of the reasons for the price disparity, in addition to exclusivity agreements between some doctors and pharmacists, incentivised by commissions from representatives of competing pharmaceutical companies.”
Salem Ali, a teacher from Baghdad, believes that “smuggled medicines, in addition to the weak role of the Pharmacists Syndicate and the security authorities in imposing their control over companies” are factors to blame. He pointed out that consequently, “many patients refrain from seeing doctors and taking medicine as a result of high prices.”
In response, Dr. Mahmoud Shaker, Secretary of the Council of the Pharmacists Syndicate in Iraq, said in a statement that “this issue has been of high priority for us, with an aim to provide drugs with appropriate prices subject to the instructions of the Ministry of Health, and under the direct supervision of the Pharmacists Syndicate,” pointing out that “the pricing project is very important and will see the light in the distant future, especially since the state is heading towards a health insurance project at the country level, and that there are oversight bodies represented by the Ministry of Health and the Pharmacists Syndicate. He added, “the issue of pricing is a project for the Ministry of Health, and the Syndicate is supervising the implementation of this project, and there is a group of medicines that are priced.” Indeed, the Syndicate and the ministries have begun to support Iraqi factories in order to provide drugs of Iraqi manufacture. He stressed that “the country is heading towards self-sufficiency, but this matter needs time,” noting that “the union has campaigned and formed more than 10 inspection teams in order to coordinate the work between scientific offices, stores, and private pharmacies.”
Commenting on the issue of smuggling, The Border Crossings Authority said in a press statement released on 18th Novermeber 2022 that it will continue to seize shipments of smuggled medicines, the latest of which was a thwart of an attempt to smuggle 2 containers containing human medicines hidden behind stationary in violation of import terms and conditions at the port of Umm Qasr Al-Awsat, Basrah.