Abu Dhabi: Medicine Costs to Rise in the UAE

Source : The National and Gulf Today

Medicine costs to rise in the UAE

For non-chronic medicines imported from Europe, prices will rise by significantly more when the decree takes effect because the ministry is not mandating lower profit margins.

ABU DHABI - Jul 15: Prices of certain medicines will rise by more than 20 per cent by the end of this year because of currency fluctuations, the Ministry of Health announced yesterday.

As part of its strategy to increase the role of the private sector and boost the local pharmaceutical economy, there will be a rise of 21.4 per cent for medicines for non-chronic conditions, and 5.85 per cent for those used to treat chronic conditions and which come from Europe. This will include only those which priced in euros.

Out of the 3,665 medicines registered to treat chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and epilepsy, the price change will affect 530. Of the 3,267 non-chronic medicines, 599 will be affected.

Since 2005 the ministry has kept the exchange rate between the dirham and euro in pharmaceutical transactions fixed at 4.3 dirhams per euro. The exchange rate currently stands at about 5.8 dirhams per euro.

Under a ministerial decree issued by Humaid al Qutami, the Health Minister, the revised exchange rate will take effect from Oct 15. Eliminating this favourable exchange rate at the first step in the supply chain will increase costs by about 32 per cent for medicines coming from Europe. But the ministry plans numerous measures, including mandatory cuts in the profit margins of pharmacies and middlemen, to ease the impact on consumers.

“We had to do something to look after the patient and not let the companies lose out too much,” said Dr Amin al Amiri, the chief executive for medical practice and licensing at the ministry. “But we needed to take into account the changing exchange rates for the euro.

“We have made some adjustments and come up with a scheme which suits everyone best.”

The ministry is mandating tighter profit margins throughout the supply chain to keep prices low. For the 530 medicines used to treat chronic illnesses they have ruled that the profit made by the pharmaceutical representative in the UAE must be cut by five percentage points. The profit the pharmacy can make must be cut by six percentage points.

For non-chronic medicines imported from Europe, prices will rise by significantly more when the decree takes effect because the ministry is not mandating lower profit margins.

Dr Fatima al Braiki, the deputy director of medical practice and licensing, said: “We do not want to increase the prices of the chronic medicines by too much because they are medicines the patient will need to take for the rest of their lives.”


Etihad boosts emirate’s future with $43bn deal

FARNBOROUGH - Jul 15: Abu Dhabi’s efforts to become a major global capital by 2030 took a major step forward yesterday with a US$43 billion (Dh157.94bn) fleet expansion plan announced by Etihad Airways.

Deals with Boeing and Airbus for as many as 205 aircraft during the next two decades represent one of the largest civil aviation orders in history.

The purchases will upgrade Etihad from an airline launched just four years ago into one of the biggest in the world – and help transform Abu Dhabi along the way.

The effects of the Etihad order are expected to spread throughout the emirate’s economy, creating new industries and companies in the aerospace sector and bringing tourists from increasingly far flung regions of the world.

A study by the Oxford Business Group, commissioned by Etihad, found that the airline would have a direct influence on the creation of more than 100,000 jobs in the UAE during the next 10 years.

The order “reflects the strength and pace of economic growth in the emirate and the integral role Etihad will play in Abu Dhabi’s future”, James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad, said yesterday at the Farnborough Air Show in the UK.

A successful expansion of Etihad is one key to realising the ambitious goals that the emirate’s leadership has set: tripling the population by 2030 and the number of tourists by 2015, and increasing the size of its economy by 13 per cent a year by 2010, to Dh584bn.

The push to bring in foreign investment and tourism dollars began only recently. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development & Investment Company were started between 2004 and 2005.

A Department of Transport was formed in 2006, while the Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, a master blueprint covering everything from new roads and transport systems to new property developments, was issued last year.

Mr Hogan said the success of Etihad Airways would be an important element in these plans.

The rapid ascent of Etihad is part of a widening shift in the balance of power among the world’s airlines. Gulf carriers have prospered by directing traffic from European and Asian carriers, thanks to ideal locations, lower cost bases and the oil boom.

While Emirates airline is the largest, it is being pursued hotly by Etihad and Qatar Airways, and smaller budget carriers have also thrived. Mr Hogan called the Middle East a “natural air bridge between East and West” that offered the fastest links for passengers and cargo.

As Etihad grows, it is expected to stimulate an emerging aerospace hub in the emirate. A free-zone cluster is planned around Abu Dhabi International Airport, which will see $6.8bn in investments including a brand new terminal that will be four times larger than the current facilities.

Mubadala, an investment vehicle of the Abu Dhabi Government, has identified aerospace as a key element of its mandate to diversify the emirate’s economy away from relying on oil and petrochemicals. It has already signed co-operation agreements with most of the world’s biggest aerospace firms, from Northrop Grumman to EADS, to look for ways to make Abu Dhabi a manufacturing and development centre.

With numerous Abu Dhabi delegations attending the Farnborough Air Show, its starring role in the global aviation industry is expected to be a developing story throughout the week.

Other major announcements are expected from Mubadala, Rolls-Royce, Abu Dhabi Aircraft Company and Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies, the airports operator and aircraft maintenance firms.


Detectives arrest 30 suspected car thieves

Police have smashed three gangs smuggling stolen cars out of the country.

SHARJAH - Jul 15: Sharjah police have smashed three gangs of suspected car thieves accused of smuggling stolen cars out of the country and arrested 30 people, including Russians and Arabs, in the biggest operation of its kind in the emirate.

The gangs used sophisticated technology and were also involved in forging credit cards and documents to enter the country, the police said.

Brig Yusuf Musa al Naqbi, the head of Sharjah Criminal Investigation Department, said police seized 11 luxury cars from the first gang.

They had shipped five cars abroad but police co-ordinated with authorities in the destination countries and had so far recovered three of the vehicles.

Police impounded an additional 11 cars being prepared for shipment from Jebeli Ali port and found more than 25 other cars the gang had bought at half the face value using bank loans.

The gang members, most of whom were Russian, were arrested on July 9 after police searched one of their cars and found the latest electronic equipment used in the theft of cars with modern computer systems.

Brig Naqbi said the gangs were able to send data about target vehicles through a mobile phone camera to an electronic processing system that enabled them to make keys for the cars before they stole them.

Decryption devices were used to unlock cars and then programme new codes into their on-board security systems.

Police also seized equipment for forging credit cards and foreign currency, including US$3,000 (Dh11,000) and Japanese yen, Russian roubles, euros and dirhams.

“We found in their possession 47 credit cards and a fake stamp used to enter through Dubai International airport,” Brig Naqbi said.

“But of all these, the most important thing we got from them was their notebook.”

This contained a large amount of information that would help police to understand how the gang worked and arrest more of its members.

It would also help in future inquiries.

The information included the name of the mastermind of the gang, identified as Ahmed Zuhair, who is reportedly wanted for car theft in other countries and had been deported from Japan for the offence.

Another gang leader was identified as an Indian named Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Qassim.

The notebook also contained detailed information about the gang’s operations, including the vehicles it had stolen, the countries to which they were sent and the mobile phones used in the operation.

Police captured another gang of 14, including Arabs and Russians, after arresting a Syrian named Ahmed Jamal Qabbani in a stolen Toyota Prado with an altered number plate.

Most of the cars stolen by this gang were from rental companies. Police said Qabbani, who had been in the country on a visit visa for two months, confessed he had been brought here for the operation.

The third gang, led by a Pakistani named Mohammed Junaid, allegedly used a team of eight juveniles from India and Pakistan.

Police said the leader threatened the young people with violence and deportation if they refused to co-operate.

They had stolen several cars and sold them to Iraq before they were caught after stealing a 2007 Toyota Corolla from a Sharjah resident.

Brig Humaid al Hadidi, the director-general of Sharjah Police, urged people to be very careful to not allow their children to get involved with such gangs.

Brig Hadidi warned anyone tempted to buy cheap cars to verify first that they had not been stolen.

He also stressed that motorists should not leave vehicles unattended with their engines running and to make sure they were parked in safe places.



Summer is in, but umbrellas are not out

Do you think the umbrella would become popular among UAE residents to keep the sun off?

The answer is "no" from many a local and expatriate angle when The Gulf Today spoke to residents.

Though many are aware that it keeps one shaded from the sun and how an "umbrella" can provide much more protection than they think, residents in the capital are not really ready to arm themselves with one, sooner or later, come summer or winter.

One of the things that makes an umbrella bothersome is the fact it's an extra item to carry especially for the ladies apart from their clothing and handbags.

It is regarded as cumbersome and less as a canopy designed to protect against sunlight.

Esraa Ziyad, a Syrian salesperson at Al Wahda Mall, said for the 20 years she is in Abu Dhabi she hasn't seen the real use of an umbrella.

"Though designed to protect from the sun, an umbrella refers to a device more suited to protect from rain but never used though, because we don't find it easy or comfortable either carrying or holding it with us " she observed.

"Seriously an umbrella is not practical for me," said Asma Rubayee Al Menhali, an Emirati national.

"It is to do with culture as well and with our abhaya to take care of along with our handbags, cell phones, ipods and what not, an umbrella being almost exclusively a hand-held device is simply an extra bothersome," added Asma.

She observed that people tend to look at you twice so to avoid their glances residents don't carry one in this region.

"Of course we are aware of the risk of the sun's rays and the sickness and disease it brings along but an umbrella is more or less linked to winter and rain," Asma opined.

Noura Al Suwaidi, an Emirati university student, said that whenever she goes out in the sun she covers her face with the Ghashwa -- face cover.

"And with our 'sheilah' the head cover, no sun gets to our face and are well protected from the sun and don't really need the umbrella," she observed.

"It's not something that we really use or want to use with our garb or dress protecting us from the UV rays and an umbrella to us is more linked with rain, but it rarely rains too."

"The last time it rained in the capital, my friend and I carried umbrellas to the university and believe me, we were the only two in the whole college who carried them," Noura added.

"But we in the Gulf love and look forward to the rain and many like the rain drops slashing on their bodies so an umbrella is an item that will never be popular among us anytime," she opined.

UV rays

According to Dr Jai Kishen, a Dermotologist, prevalence of skin cancer among people wearing the fully-covered Arab dresses is minimal as this dress code protects the wearer from the harmful UV rays.

Three types of UV radiation: UV-A, B and C, UV-C never reaches the earth's surface as it's completely blocked by the ozone layer.

It is UV-B reaching the surface which is mainly responsible for sun burn, tanning whereas UV-A produces photo-aging. Both UV-B and UV-A contribute to certain types of skin cancers.

"The black Abhaya absorbs the radiation and though the heat is felt by the wearer, the skin is protected from the harmful rays," he observed.

Meanwhile, studies reveal that large quantities of UV rays can reflect from sand and towards the eyes and cause injury.

However, it is difficult to assess the exact damage on the eye as the body has its own built-in defense against harmful rays but cumulative exposure to UV rays is one of the causes of cataract, and results in blurred and fuzzy vision.

Therefore, the face veil called the Ghashwa and the Burga are not just a religious custom but it is a practical one to protect the woman's face from the heat, wind and sand.

According to Dr Rodrigues, a dermatologist in the capital using an umbrella, does not mean you can go without sunscreen.

"An umbrella is certainly not a replacement but is an ideal alternative for protection against the sun and its harmful rays," he said.

Rodrigues observed that an umbrella definitely is an alternative to those who are allergic to sunscreens cosmetics and for acne patients for whom exposure to sun could cause severe problems.

However, a few non-Muslim expatriates who don't wear the abhaya suggested that an umbrella will be an ideal thing to use especially in the sun.

Summer dominates major parts of the year and using umbrellas in beautiful shapes, sizes and colours will be an added beauty and ideal for the Gulf region expatriates who don't cover or wear the customary Arab dress of Abhaya and Sheilahs.

Ameera Taj, an Indian expatriate, said there aren't umbrella shops in the country unlike in India where people use them for every season.

"I'm new to the Gulf but am equally surprised that I don't see anyone using the umbrella at all here. After coming here even I have kept aside my umbrellas idle and don't use them any more, more so because I feel odd to use them here," she added.

"Umbrellas have large uses and can give shade to keep the sun out of your eyes and also help keep you cool,' Ameera observed.

An umbrella, people probably think of using only when it is raining outside but the range, scope, and use of umbrellas go much further than that. You can use an umbrella for shade, a cooling effect, or to keep you dry amongst other things.

Gear up for hot and humid week

SHARJAH airport recorded a maximum of 46°C on Sunday while Dubai recorded maximum 41°C, meteorology sources in both emirates said.

In Minhad, an interior desert area in Dubai, which is also an airbase, the maximum temperature recorded on Sunday was a blistering 51°C, met sources said. This, however, can not be regarded as the temperature in the inhabited areas of the UAE.

"It is an inland area and far away from the coastal side of Dubai," sources in Dubai explained.

Sharjah also recorded 60 per cent maximum and 14 per cent minimum humidity.

The whole week is expected to be hot, humid and dusty and next Wednesday is expected to be one of the hottest days of the year, meteorologist in Sharjah added.

A Shamal or a cooler wind from the seaside is far away. A usual Shamal has avoided the region for the past several days as a low pressure developed in the Omani side of the Arabian Sea pulled in desert wind from around the area blowing sand, they said.

Next few days will be hotter, Wednesday, probably will be the hottest in this season.

In other parts of the country, Abu Dhabi recorded 38°C, while Al Ain had the highest atmospheric temperature, 48 degrees. Fujairah had 35 and Ras Al Khaimah had 44 °C maximum temperature, they said.

Customers feel the heat as LPG prices shoot up

COOKING gas (LPG) prices in Sharjah have touched an all-time high of Dhs49, Dhs99 and Dhs198 for small, medium and big cylinders from July 6, agency sources said.

It was Dhs48, Dhs94 and Dhs195, respectively, in May and June. Distributors pay Dhs44, Dhs87 and Dhs174 at the filling stations and distribute them taking approximately Dhs10 profit from each cylinder.

A new decision on the pricing structure was issued by Sharjah Economic Department early July fixing the monthly prices of the gas cylinders.

The department decides gas prices on a month-to-month basis. The decision is said to be heavily dependent on the Adnoc prices, the supplier of gas from Abu Dhabi, which goes by the international petroleum market price.

LPG filling agency sources in Sharjah said the prices may further increase in the wake of the skyrocketing oil price in the international market.

Gas prices in Sharjah for the period from April 7 to May 5 were fixed by Sharjah Economic Department at Dhs46, Dhs89 and Dhs188, respectively.

The heavily-subsidised cooking gas (LPG) prices reported in Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi, are not applicable in Sharjah, according to the same sources.

Prices in Abu Dhabi for the popular 11 and 22-kg cylinders were Dhs22 and Dhs35. It was reported that RAK will also get subsidised gas. It is expected to be in line with the prices in the capital, sources said.

Gas filling stations in Sharjah increased gas filling prices by 1-4 dirhams from Jan 7, on small, medium and big cylinders.

Customers were paying Dhs95 for a medium (22 kg), Dhs47 for 11 kg and Dhs190 for 44 kg cylinders, the prices fixed on Dec 6.

The prices had gone down for a while but shot up this month.

LPG prices in Sharjah had touched record high in December last year as a medium-size household, 22-kg cylinder costing Dhs95, Dhs7 more than the previous month.

The high prices of cooking gas may take a toll on households, with prices of various goods including the staple food rice, shooting up already. LPG customers who are not connected to the natural gas grid of Sharjah, especially bachelor accommodations, restaurants and shops, are the worst hit, distributors said.

A few distributors add another two or five dirhams to each cylinder on their own.

"We should get at least Dhs16 as profit on each cylinder. Otherwise we can not survive in this market," one distributor claimed. "Since we are directly in contact with customers, we take the curses from families. Our phone is ringing regularly asking for the current price. Eventually, we take the hit," a Fast Gas source said.

There are approximately 100 distribution agencies functioning in Sharjah. There are eight or 10 agencies in Al Nahda area, 18 in Butheena and more in Maysaloon. "The competition is also tough. We have to close down and go," he added.

The Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) that supplies natural gas in the emirate as well as for some other sources in Dubai such as the abra boat service, has not increased its prices per unit since long.

Natural gas is cheaper, thinner than LPG and safer as it will not explode like LPG cylinders. The government has a plan to install more natural gas stations in Sharjah so that more vehicles can be run with LNG power.

Sewa is already running a fleet of its cars using natural gas as power source.


Parking woes: Motorists rue fewer parking spaces

Sharjah - Jul 15:RESIDENTS living in crowded Sharjah residential areas, who usually wake up in the morning time to find a violation paper placed on the front windows of their cars as they parked in un authorised parking areas are urging Sharjah Police to strongly consider the fact that the construction work for new buildings within their residential areas are leaving them with no authorised parking spaces.

Ahmed Shami, a resident of Al Qassimia area in Sharjah said: "I have been living in the same flat for the past six years and previously the situation was much better as we had empty lands to freely park our cars but now we hardly can find an empty space in most of the hours of the day and sometimes quarrels erupts between two motorists desperately looking for car parking.

I usually go home at around 8pm and I cannot find a single space empty and I keep on searching for a car park for around half an hour daily. Sometimes I feel very exhausted of simply driving the car for long till I find a single car parking and this forces me sometimes to park my car nearby the yellow and black pavement which I know is unauthorised and I was fined twice. But what can I do? My building has only seven paid parking spaces and they are all rented. I think Sharjah Police should have mercy on people who are really facing daily hardship in finding an empty space. The workers of under construction building daily place the red cone barriers in the authorised parking areas to prevent us from parking in these areas.

Rola Eseely, a resident who lives on the immigration road behind Emirates Islamic bank located on the immigration road: "I rented my new flat three months ago after leaving my other flat in Abu Shaghara area for the same problem of inadequate parking spaces. When I came to my new flat there were around four big empty lands with adequate parking spaces for all the residents in the area but now things are getting worse with all the sides of my buildings being used for the construction of new buildings. What makes me upset is to find a fine paper placed on my car's front window. Sharjah Police must be more understanding with people living in over populated residential buildings. The car parking offered by the building is taken by the bank and I really don't know where I can park my car. I think the best solution is to stop allowing land owners to construct more buildings particularly in jammed areas

When the resident's daily plight of finding a car parking was brought to the notice of Major Sultan Mohamed Al Juweid, Head of Anjad Patrol Section at Sharjah Police he said: "We are trying hard to be more flexible with people parking their cars in unauthorised parking spaces in overcrowded residential areas but sometimes we have to issue fines especially to those who park their cars in a way that blocks the way of other parked cars while some other motorist simply park their cars in a way that make the inner roads of the residential areas very narrow for passing by cars."

Major Al Juweid urged the Sharjah Directorate of Town Planning and Survey and Sharjah Municipality to stop issuing building license in residential areas witnessing inadequate parking spaces.




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