Health professionals say that crucial medicines will be in short supply as a result of the Tunisian wholesale medicine distributors’ suspension of distribution activities.
Pharmacies rely on wholesalers for a large portion of their medical supplies.
Suppliers are required by the government to offer discounts this year, and the strike was in protest of the Ministry of Finance’s decision not to exempt them.
Since 2006, Tunisia’s government has allowed medicine suppliers an exemption, because the net profit margin is less than the discount rate they would be forced to provide. Recently, however, the exemption was removed.
70 pharmacies, according to National Chamber for Wholesale Supplying Pharmacists president Ahmed Karray, are on the verge of bankruptcy because of money problems, and government intervention is required.
Karray said that negotiations with the government have been ongoing since April, but we have not received a response from them. He said that medicine is a critical issue, and both the government and the ruling party should address the issue.
Private pharmacy owners said that current supplies would last for only three days in cities and one day in rural areas.
According to Tunisia’s state press agency, TAP, Thouraya Naifer, secretary general of the Tunisian Syndicate for Private Pharmacy Owners, warned that the suspension of wholesale distribution of medicines would negatively impact citizens’ health security, particularly those with chronic illnesses.
Such circumstances will result in a flourishing black market in medicine, Ms Naifer warned.
A health ministry representative has reportedly revealed to local news outlets that another negotiation round is currently taking place with wholesalers.