5 February 2013

Sudan's Central Bank Makes U.S.$80 Million Available to Pharmaceutical Companies

Khartoum — The governor of Sudan's Central Bank (CBoS) Mohamed Kheir Al-Zubair announced today that his institution will provide $80 million in hard currency to pharmaceutical companies amid big increases in drug prices.

Salah Kambal, the chairman of Sudan's Drug Importers Chamber hailed CBoS's move saying it will help stabilize prices but warned that it will only be felt if local pharmaceutical companies that went out of business can restart production.

He pointed out that these companies, which were forced to shut down over lack of hard currency, will help cover the shortfall in the supply of certain drugs thus eliminating the need to import them.

Some observers however argued that the big jump in drug prices exceeded the increase in the exchange rate of the dollar against the U.S. dollar.

On Tuesday the governor of Khartoum Abdel-Rahman Al-Khidir convened a meeting with parties of interest in the issue of drug prices where he acknowledged the extent of the problem and vowed to do everything in his power to reverse the trend in collaboration with the federal government and CBoS.

He stressed that medicine should be treated as a priority similar to petroleum and wheat suggesting that authorities could resort to imposing a price ceiling to prevent increases in drug prices.

Sudan is battling its biggest economic crisis for decades as it struggles with a severe shortage of hard currency following the loss of three quarters of its oil production due to South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Oil revenues were the main source of revenue for Sudan's budget and for foreign currency needed to pay for vital imports including food and medicine.

The Sudanese pound has more than halved in value since the country was partitioned.

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