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Uganda Increases Tax on Imported Drugs

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State Minister for Health, Sarah Opendi

The Ministry of Health has increased the verification fee on imported drugs that are locally produced.

Starting July, pharmaceutical companies that import drugs and reproduce them from here will be charged 12% instead of the 2% that their have been paying.

This move is intended to protect the locally made medicine so that they can compete favorably with the imported locally produced medicine.

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According to Sarah Opendi, the state minister of health, the increase is ready and was started at the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year that started this July.

While addressing a policy coordination meeting for all ministries and government agencies held at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, Opendi said they intend to discourage the reproduction of this medicine by increasing the  verification fee so that the locally made medicine can compete favorably.

“We are aware of companies that import medicine and reproduce it here. This is mainly sold at a cheaper price compared to the local medicine hence out-competing the locally made medicine,” Opendi said.

“We are hoping that the increase will discourage them or at least make their medicine a bit expensive,” she added.

Matia kasaija, the finance minister appreciated this move, noting that the reproduced medicine is not always to the standard hence putting the health of Ugandans at risk.

“I have been informed that some of these companies import the medicine but on reproducing it, they do not add all the ingredients hence the medicine may look and test the same like the original medicine when in actual sense it lacks one important ingredient that would heal the intended disease,” Kasaija said

He added that a common Ugandan will not be able to detect this so it is the work of the health ministry to ensure drugs are verified to avoid “fake” medicine.

The health ministry was also criticized for continuing to buy goods from other countries, yet there are local alternatives.

Amelia kyambadde, the minister for trade, industry and cooperatives wondered why the ministry was “importing mosquito nets, when there are mosquitoes of quality here.”

Opendi defended their decision saying that since the money is mainly from donors, some times they dictate where the goods will be bought from.

However the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda advised that such a policy can be bargained against because the donor man isn’t entirely free.

“As the minister, you should be able to tell the donors that as a much as they are making a donation, it is up to the Uganda’s government to decide how the donation will be dealt with as long as the money is still inline with the initial intention,” Rugunda said.

“If we want to develop and protect our economy, we have to be stronger in our demands because this donated money isn’t entirely free as they make you believe,” he added.

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