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Lebanese government removes drug subsidies

Lebanese government removes drug subsidies

Beirut, Nov 17 (Prensa Latina) The beginning of a gradual elimination of drug subsidies announced by the Minister of Health of Lebanon, Firass Abiad, has prompted a wave of anger and despair began to be present in Lebanon.

The measure will lead to price increases five- or six-fold for treatments against heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, among others.

Pharmacist Georges Zammar told a local radio station that customers were not expecting such a surge and as a result most of them are angry and dumbfounded.

“I’d say 90 percent of those who asked for baby formula left my pharmacy empty-handed. They just didn’t have the money to pay for it,” he said.

The newly imposed tariffs made medicines unaffordable for the majority in a country whose 80 percent of the population fell below the poverty line ($3.64 a day), according to UN data.

Since October 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 100 percent of its value and reduced the value of the wages of 90 out of 100 Lebanese to almost nothing.

The minimum wage before that date was 675 thousand Lebanese pounds equivalent to 450 dollars and today the value is just $30.

Medicines for the treatment of cancer, mental and psychological illnesses or those stored in hospitals will continue to be protected by the state, the minister said.


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