The Minister of Public Health, Firas Al-Abyad, indicated in a television interview that “when the Ministry of Health received the warehouses of Karantina, they were empty of medicines, and it had been 4 months since no medicine had entered Lebanon after the dispute between the Central Bank and drug importers, which created a vacuum in the drug market.” He pointed out that “we had two options, either to remain in the vicious circle or to make a decision to take the budget that was available to us from the Central Bank, and we divided it according to priorities, and the priority was for cancer drugs.”
He stressed that, “from the budget, we have nothing left to allow us to fully support chronic disease medicines, so we resorted to lifting part of the support and not lifting full support, and with the lifting of partial support, the medicine will return to be available in pharmacies.” He stressed that “the income of the Lebanese citizen is still the same, and this is the core of the problem. There is a responsibility on the state to increase salaries and the financing card, and to increase coverage from the guarantee funds.”
He explained, “We have solutions for people who are unable to purchase chronic diseases medicines, as primary health care centers provide 90 types of medicines for chronic diseases free of charge.” He stressed that “cancer patients do not have time, and we could have continued to tighten the ropes with the Central Bank for another 4 months, but there are patients who do not have the luxury of time and they are the ones who were paying the price.”
He pointed out that “when I asked for assistance from the envoy of French President Pierre Dukan to support the drug, he said to me, “How can you ask us and you are the country that 80 percent of its medicines are brand, while in France we have the majority of our generic medicines”, and we have not had a drug policy for years.”
And he considered that “the drug card will allow us to prevent smuggling, monitor distribution and the basic tracking process,” noting that “we will see a gradual breakthrough in pharmacies in the presence of medicine,” stressing that “we are heading towards comprehensive health coverage in which we give medicines to the citizen for free, but the problem is always in funding.” .