Turkey to increase drug prices by over 25 percent

The Turkish Health Ministry on Wednesday announced that drug prices in Turkey would be increased by 26.4 percent as of Feb. 19, Duvar news site reported.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the price hike was decided on jointly by the representatives of the ministry and the pharmaceutical sector.

“We discussed a price update that can be calculated by multiplying the average euro-lira exchange rate last year by a constant value,” Koca said, noting that while in previous years the average exchange rate had been multiplied by 70 percent, for 2019 it would be multiplied by 60 percent, leading to a 26.4 increase in drug prices.

Currency exchange rates are crucial for Turkey’s pharmaceutical sector as Turkey imports over fifty percent of medicines, while domestic production is heavily dependant on imported raw materials.

The Turkish lira dropped by almost by one-third against the dollar in 2018 and hit record lows following a diplomatic spat with the United States in August. Consumer price inflation jumped to a 15-year high of 25.2 percent in October and was at an annual 20.4 percent in January.

Reuters reported last week that Turkish pharmacists in Istanbul had been facing shortages as the sector had expected the government to keep drug prices artificially low. While the pharmaceutical companies asked for a 35 percent increase, the government planned to raise the rate by 15 percent, Reuters said.

Minister Koca this month pointed the finger at the country’s pharmaceutical sector for shortages, accusing producers, warehouses and pharmacists hoarding drugs to sell after a price hike.

Koca said on Wednesday that the ministry was inspecting the sector and had issued administrative fines to many companies.