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Iraq patients dying as medical ‘mafia’ raise drug prices

Family members visit patients at hospital on Iraq on 9 September 2018 [WALEED AL-KHALID/AFP/Getty Images]
Family members visit patients at a hospital on Iraq on 9 September 2018 [Waleed Al-Khalid//AFP/Getty Images]

Scores of Iraqis are dying because they cannot afford prescription medicines which are being kept high, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported yesterday.

According to the news site, prices are being kept high by people who have links to executives in the Iraqi government and control the medicine market. This has left the Ministry of Health unable to make urgent medicines affordable such as those for cancer, kidney, heart and nerve diseases.

Most of the firms producing medicines in Iraq are connected to politicians, government officials or other executives in the country who protect them when they raise prices, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said, noting that some of the medicines, which used to be offered to patients for free, are being sold for $200.

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Speaking anonymously to the London-based news website, an official in the Iraqi Ministry of Health said that prices of some of the medicines are being multiplied three times.

“Citizens are obliged to buy the medicines because there are no alternatives at hospitals,” the official said.

He added: “There are pharmaceutical companies considered the mafia … as they control the pharmaceutical sector, prevent the resumption of work in factories which produce the medicines and put pressure on the Ministry of Health in order to prevent imports of certain medicines by the government.”

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