Call for more local production of medicines to tide over shortages in Oman

Oman Saturday 15/April/2023 22:00 PM
By: Times News Service
Call for more local production of medicines to tide over shortages in Oman

Muscat: Local pharmaceutical industry needs to increase production of medicines to avoid shortages, a senior official of the Ministry of Health said.

Recently, the Minister of Health, Dr Hilal Al Sabti, called for the establishment of more local pharma factories after citizens complained of shortages of medicines at the health centres.

The Minister of Health said that there is an increase in consumption, and the supply chain has been interrupted due to closure of some small and emerging companies.

“So we started looking for some investors to set up some pharmaceutical factories in the Sultanate of Oman. Two months ago, a pharmaceutical factory was opened in Salalah, and we hope to open another at the end of the year,” he said.

Speaking to Times of Oman, a senior official from the Oman’s Ministry of Health, said that in June 2022 there was a shortage of 214 medicines from the list of 1,200, while a month ago the scarcity was of 90 medicines, and currently the deficit is of 54 drugs.

The official also confirmed that there are many reasons for the shortages. “While some are supply-related due to great demand all over the world, others are production-related.”

But the most important cause of drug shortage is lack of raw materials. “This is due to the impact of global supply chains, including political tensions in Europe and Russia and increase in raw material prices as a result of rise in energy prices.”

The official also said that one of the reasons for short supply is the backlog of a large number of operations and appointments in Oman during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that due to supply disruptions, some of the drugs were reaching Oman eight months behind the schedule.

He also said: “As the pharmaceutical market is regulated, it is not allowed to import products except from factories that are registered and approved locally and internationally as a result of their sensitivity and their direct impact on human health. Therefore, the availability of some medicines are very limited.”

He also said that lack of medicines is also due to the lesser number of local factories, as most of the medicines are imported from outside.

The official said that despite great challenges, Oman is making efforts to overcome the shortages, as 95 percent of the approved and essential medicines were provided, according to the latest report issued in March 2023.

Doctors have been urged to adhere to the policies approved by the Ministry of Health for distributing medicines and to not force patients to buy it from the private sector.