Drug consumption reaches over $430 million in past year

National Yemen

Yemen doctors in al-Thawra Hospital

By Wafa A.Alkhazzan

Director General of the Supreme Commission for Drugs and Medical supplies, Dr. Abdel Moneim Alhakami, says that Yemen imported drugs and medical supplies amounting to more than $430 million. Medical supplies form 10%, and 10% more for the  domestic pharmaceuticals equipment. Egypt is Yemen’s main drug exporter, with $55 million in goods, followed by Germany.

About 316 companies imported drugs in the past year, with ten types for 45.68% of total imports for a total value of 21, 856, 559, 520 riyals. Major imported drugs are antibiotics and pain relievers, though a major reason for the quantity of goods being sold is due to bad prescriptions, disbursement, and patient awareness of how they work.

Dr. Abdel Moneim also blames a lack of legislation against smuggling and counterfeiting of medicines, and asked for a pharmacy and medicine law to curb these effects. It would include penalties, and local authorities activating comprehensive controls on pharmacies. The Pharmacy Guild of Yemen mentioned that smuggled drugs account for anywhere from 50% to 60% of total supply, mainly because of legal drugs being expensive and difficult to access.

Dr. Abdel Moneim Ali Hakami says that legal procedures are in effect for destroying confiscated drugs at all ports of entry, which was about 31 tons in the past year. He stressed that pharmacists must buy drugs from official agents, and warned citizens against buying smuggled and counterfeit drugs since they may either be useless, or very harmful to a patient’s health.

Many Yemenis simply travel abroad for treatment. Almost 90% of an annual 290, 000 patients go to Egypt to treat different diseases, including cancer, and renal infections. Yemenis also spend between $400 million and $700 million on overseas medication. This has led to criticism that citizen health has become a trade commodity rather than a problem in need of social intervention.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in less developed countries like Yemen, and it thrives under conditions of scarcity. Up to 280, 000 Yemenis travel abroad for heart treatment, partially because of a lack of confidence in Yemeni healthcare, and also due a shortage of reputable specialists in the country.