BEIRUT — The parliamentary Health Committee discussed Tuesday the current health situation and a proposal to subsidize drugs, after prices increased significantly when subsidies were partially removed on exported drugs this month.
Here is what we know:
• At the beginning of this month, Health Minister Firass Abiad announced a plan to gradually lift subsidies on medications, including those used to treat heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, causing prices to spike.
• "We discussed the possibility of presenting a bill to support drugs with $30 million for a period of three months ... We found that this [solution] will not progress and the crisis will start again in three months,” said the head of the committee, Assem Araji, noting that several other proposals were made during the meeting.
• He added that a meeting between Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Health Minister Firass Abiad should take place so that “things are studied with more transparency. Our first proposal to Mikati was to discuss with the Governor of the Bank of Lebanon extending subsidies on chronic disease drugs for a period of two or three months.”
• On Friday, Mikati discussed with the parliamentary health committee possible solutions to the rising prices of drugs for chronic diseases.
• The Health Ministry had partially raised subsidies on drugs due to lack of funds. Minister Abiad had however clarified that there are local, and less expensive alternatives, noting that more than 450 drugs are still subsidized in the primary health care centers under the ministry.