Pharmacies in quandary 

Source: Pharmacies in quandary | The Herald November 27, 2018

Pharmacies in quandary

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Pharmaceutical retailers and wholesalers are in a quandary following the warning issued by President Mnangagwa on Saturday that Government will revoke licences of those continuing to demand US dollar payments for medicines, yet they are accessing foreign currency at 1:1 rate from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

In separate interviews, both representatives of wholesalers and retailers said they will need to consult and map the way forward.

Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe spokesperson Mr Portifa Mwendera said while retailers were likely to comply for fear of losing their licences, the situation was also likely to create shortages if not backed by adequate foreign currency allocations.

“Since the first of October, the pharmaceutical industry has received $5 million, yet we need at least $2 million every week to satisfy demand in the private sector,” he said. “Most of our medicines are imported and we need the foreign currency to buy medicines for different ailments.”

Mr Mwendera said Government had so far not provided enough foreign currency to satisfy their requirements and they were charging in foreign currency to make up for the deficit.

He said of late, insulin used in the management of diabetes was the only drug available on the market through any form of payment because it was also being accessed through RTGS from Natpharm.

Natpharm is a State entity responsible for procuring medicines on behalf of both Government and public institutions.

Asked about the announcement by Pharmaceutical Chemical Distributors (Pvt) Ltd – one of the major pharmaceutical wholesalers in Zimbabwe – that all its products were now being sold in any form of payment, Mr Mwendera said change should be seen on the market should PCD maintain the position.

“If PCD maintains that position there should obviously be change on the market because they have a variety of medicines and are one of the biggest suppliers in the country,” he said.

Regarding the status of letters of credit released by the RBZ last month for procurement of medicines, Mr Mwendera said all wholesalers and suppliers agreed to the conditions stated in them and they have since been sent back to the RBZ for signing before they are dispatched to different suppliers.

Mr Kuda Chapfika, a representative from the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers, said they were looking forward to coming up with a common position on a way forward this week following the warning by the President.

So far, PCD is the only wholesaler that is accepting RTGS payments for its products.

The wholesaler was only opened for two days last week following its announcement that it was accepting all forms of payment.