Kidney patients protest Minister’s decision [Archives:2007/1069/Local News]

July 19 2007

SANA'A, July 18 ) Dozens of kidney patients carried out a sit-in in front of the presidential palace last Saturday requesting the president to stop the Public Health Minister's decision to change the medicine they are using and import an imitated drug.

In a statement of appeal sent to the president, the protesters called for “an urgent directive” to Minister of Health Dr. Abdul Kareem Ras'i to stop the procedures of setting the tender on an imitated and cheep drug as a substitution for the Swiss drug prescribed to them by specialists.They also confirmed in the statement that specialists had already recommended using the Swiss drug supplied by NATCO company -the sole agent in Yemen- and advised the Minister to exclude importing the Indian drug which doesn't suit such patients.

The protestors showed medical reports and appeals, asking for continuing the use of the Swiss drug and giving up any measures taken to import any substitutional drug. In addition, 10 nephrology specailists and consultants maintained that the Swiss medicine is safer for such patiants than the other alternatives, noting that specialists from Syria, Egypt, and United Arab Emirates recommend applying the Swiss drug for its required safety.

For his par, Dr. Rasi confirmed that he took this decision on the basis of consultations from the Medical Scientific Committee in order to break the monopoly imposed by a private company. However, the Ministerial Committee has already asked the Health Ministry to set the tender on NATCO as the sole agent of the Swiss drug in Yemen. The committee also listed warnings against drugs which some companies suggested to import from India to the country for the first time in Yemen, according to News Yemen Website.

The website also said that the documents it got from the Ministerial Committee indicate that the Committee rejected the Minister's decision. Nevertheless, the Minister justified that his insistence on importing the Indian drug is based on the difference on price between the Swiss drug, which is expensive, and the cheep Indian alternative drug.