Pharmacists advocate tax exemption on imported medicines

xxxThe Chamber of Pharmacy has advocated the exemption of tax on imported medicines into the country to help reduce the prizes of medicines by 30 per cent.

The group said Ghana used only 30 per cent of locally manufactured medicines, while 70 per cent were imported, adding that high taxes on imported medicines would make drugs expensive.

The chairman of the chamber, Mr. Harrison Abutiate, who was speaking at a sensitisation workshop, organised by the chamber in Accra yesterday, urged government to remove  the 17.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported finished medicines, to make medicines affordable and accessible to patients.

“Seventy per cent of medicine consumed in Ghana are imported therefore an additional 17.5 per VAT on imported medicine only  increases medicine bill of over 52.5 per cent not to mention other additional taxes like ECOWAS levy, development fund, special import levy and processing charges among others,” he said.

Mr. Abutiate stated that all taxes charged on imported finished medicines including storage, wholesalers and retailers mark up, bank interest add up to the final sale price of medicines  to government and patients.

He believed that the taxes when removed would reduce the cost of medicines sold to patients and reduce the cost of medicines on the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) bill.

“Current statistics shows that in 2008 the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) saw nine million outpatient visitations to hospitals  and  paid  about GH¢ 183 million to service providers while in 2015 there were 29 million visitations with about GH¢1billion  paid to service providers,” Mr. Abutiate.

He indicated that the monies paid to service providers could be reduced or halved if taxes on the medicines were removed.

The huge taxes according to Mr. Abutiate pose a challenge to the pharmaceutical industry as it makes them incur debts and later stay out of business if care was not taken.

The workshop was expected to explore avenues to find a beneficial situation for medicine suppliers.

It was attended by local medicine manufacturers, pharmaceutical importers and exporters, community pharmacists, and over the counter medicine sellers.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey                              


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