If there is a discontent in these times when the increase in prices is the general trend in Morocco, it is indeed that against the high prices of drugs in the Kingdom. And even if the actors of the pharmaceutical sector affirm that the prices in Morocco are close to the prices of the drugs of what is done externally, the low amount devoted by the Moroccans for the purchase of drugs clearly reflects the difficulties to which the latter are faced.
Despite the State’s desire to bring prices down, the average Moroccan citizen does not exceed 500 dirhams a year on average for the purchase of medicines, whereas in the countries of the European continent the amount reaches more than three thousand dirhams (300 euros).
Parliamentarian Hassan Berkani (PI), from the House of Representatives, indicated in a question he addressed to the Minister of Health and Social Protection that, “the prices of medicines in Morocco are generally more expensive than in other countries. Prices are high, especially for original drugs, and their prices vary according to the brand itself, at rates sometimes going up to 600%.
For his part, Mehdi Bray, Deputy Secretary General of the Confederation of Pharmacists’ Unions of Morocco, said speaking to MoroccoLatestNews that “to speak of a price difference of 600% is exaggerated, to say the least, without insight and without a desire to seek correct information and veracity”.
The rise in drug prices in Morocco has sparked widespread controversy in recent days, after the recent report of the Court of Auditors focused on the subject of drug prices. It is argued that“impacted by the margins of wholesalers and pharmacies”, as well as by “the rate of VAT, the prices exceed those applied” by other countries, oscillating between 47% and 57% for drugs whose factory price, excluding costs, is less than or equal to 588 dirhams, and for drugs whose manufacturing price exceeds 558 dirhams. These margins are between 300 and 400 dirhams per box”. Pharmacists, of course, dispute this state of affairs and rather report “errors”.
Mehdi Bray said that if the parliamentarian who claimed the 600% had bothered to examine pharmacy bills in Morocco, he would not have found these imaginary percentages. And our interlocutor to specify, “ the actual percentages are 33.93% and 29.75% as the gross profit margin according to the first and second categories of drugs, while the average gross profit rate is 27% if we also consider the third and fourth category of drugs and infant formula “. He further pointed out that ” the percentages mentioned are those that the Directorate General of Taxation approved through the acquittal treaty with the pharmaceutical sector in 2019. It also indicated that the average net profit of a pharmacist is 8%”.
Players in the health sector attribute the reason for the increase in medicines in Morocco to the imbalances from which the pharmaceutical industry suffers, and this had already been confirmed by the Competition Council in a report published in 2021, where it stated that 15 laboratories monopolize 70% of the drugs on the market. The Deputy Secretary General of the Confederation of Pharmacists’ Unions of Morocco said that the high prices of drugs in Morocco are “relative”, adding that, “prices in general are similar to neighboring countries, with differences here and there”.
In numbers, he added, “about 92% of drugs in Morocco cost less than 166 dirhams (manufacturer’s price excluding fees), while about 7% are priced between 166 and 588 dirhams, and only about 1% of drugs exceed the price of 588 dirhamsadding that the latter “ is the one that weighs the most on the citizen, and it can reach millions of cents when it is generally associated with incurable diseases “. Although the Ministry of Health and Welfare has reduced the price of more than three thousand types of drugs, “he was able to reduce the prices of expensive drugs only rarely and insufficiently, and they belong to multinational laboratories“, according to Mehdi Bray. He further indicated that the reductions “ limited in particular to low-cost drugs since 2014 “.
The trade unionist felt that “the lack of tangible improvement in the wages of citizens, despite the high standard of living and the high prices of consumer goods, is also considered to be one of the factors that explain why the consumption of medicines by the average Moroccan citizen has not not changed over the last decade, since it does not exceed 500 dirhams per year”. He finally noted that “the drug is almost the only substance in Morocco whose price remains low”.