Shortage of imported medicines continues, but there are local alternatives

Citizens insist on buying foreign instead of local medicines, despite the price difference, say pharmacists

pharmacy drugs drug
An undated photo of a pharmacy in Jordan. (File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The issue of drug shortages is still making the rounds, made more confusing by pharmacists’ assurances that the problem is real, and authorities’, including the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA), silence or outright denial that the problem exists.اضافة اعلان

JFDA Director General Nizar Al-Mhaidat was quoted by a local news outlet last Wednesday as saying that “there is no shortage of medicines; the country’s pharmaceutical stocks cover the needs of the local market for the next four to six months, depending on the type of medicines.”

This, however, does not seem to be the case with imported medicines, pharmacists say.

“There is a shortage of imported medication, but there are locally produced alternatives to substitute for the foreign medicines that are out of stock,” said Wael Abu Dayyih, owner of a small pharmacy in Rusaifah.

According to Abu Dayyih, “supply and demand in the pharmaceutical sector is meticulously supervised by the JFDA.”

The problem seems to lie with customers, who either shun locally produced medicine or prefer to stick with the tried and tested.

“Many customers ask for specific products that are out of stock, but when we offer local alternatives with the same formula, they do not go for them,” Abu Dayyih said.

“Jordanians stick to the familiar brands and trademarks they know, and in many cases, they will not try any equivalent to the product that is out of stock,” he added.

But why do some imported medicines run out of stock in the first place?

According to Abu Dayyih, pharmacies run out of imported drugs “for two main reasons”: either “because of financial issues between the importer in Jordan and the exporter”, or because either “decides that it is not feasible to bring in small quantities of a certain drug to sell in Jordan, in light of the expenses incurred to market the product, given the size of the Jordanian market”.

Meanwhile, the public health sector “may import the drugs not found in pharmacies, but that is only because they enter into tenders to purchase them in bulk directly from the producer”, he said.

Mohammad Qasqas, an employee in a pharmacy in Amman, told Jordan News that pharmacists “constantly struggle with the shortage of imported medicines, as well as with consumers’ awareness about the adequacy of local alternatives”.

The two interviewees reiterated that there is a shortage of imported medicines, but also that Jordanians are hesitant to used local alternatives, despite them having the same components as the foreign product.

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