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Lebanon seeks to slash dependence on foreign drugs

The minister reveals that some health institutions refuse to buy local medications and drugs even if they are registered with the health ministry.

Lebanon’s imports of pharmaceuticals have reached $1.2 billion as health institutions depend heavily on imported drugs, the Daily Star reports.

Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan calls for the slashing of imports of pharmaceutical products in order to encourage locally made medications and medical equipment.

“The pharmaceutical bill in Lebanon is $1.2bn. Why don’t we reduce imports by 15 to 20 per cent and increase dependence on locally made medications by the same proportion?” the English daily quotes the minister as saying.

The minister reveals that some health institutions refuse to buy local medications and drugs even if they are registered with the health ministry.

Speaking at a medical forum, the minister touches on a range of local issues and concerns. He says the country’s trade deficit has reached $17bn.

“We pump $20bn abroad, $17bn of which is the trade deficit and $3bn is the total amount of salaries for foreign workers,” the minister notes.

He says Lebanon’s public debt has surpassed $71bn, stressing that the country must press ahead with oil and gas exploration projects if it wants to solve economic woes.

A few weeks ago, Lebanese industrialists and farmers were hit hard after Syrian rebels seized the last crossing points between Syria and Jordan where the bulk of locally produced goods pass on to Iraq and other Gulf countries.