HARARE – More and more people continue to lose their lives and some remain at risk as critical medicines remain out of reach, forcing many to either default doctors’ prescriptions or change prescribed drug regimens. This comes as pharmacies persist in demanding consumers to purchase medication using either US dollars for selected medicine, or swipe/mobile and bond note payments at inflated parallel market rates.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association chairperson Fortune Nyamande told the Daily News that doctors have reported high rates of defaulters for those on chronic medications, while many patients are experiencing extreme difficulties in accessing medication. “There are people who are taking life prolonging medications and are failing to get a constant supply of their prescribed drugs. We have hypertension patients who are failing to get their prescription drugs and being forced to have their drug regimens changed. “This is the same for other conditions like asthma, diabetes, mental health conditions and so on; Insulin injections for example are now astronomically high posing a great danger to diabetics who are not supposed to miss their doses,” Nyamande said.
An investigation by the Daily News yesterday revealed that most pharmacies have selected medication that patients can only buy using US dollars, while those that accept bond notes or RTGS are charging at highly inflated rates. As for asthma, both Ventolin HFA and levalbuterol which are used as inhalation medication are pegged between US$6 and US$7 for a month, with bond notes and RTGS inflating the price to between $24 and $30. Epilepsy tablets called Carbamazepine, which used to cost $7 for a month’s dosage, are now ranging from US$5 to US$13, and $24 to $40 for bond notes or RTGS. Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, Nifedipine tablets have been scarce in many pharmacies. However, a month’s dosage has increased price from $4 to between US$6 to US$7, and $12 to $24 for bond notes or RTGS for 30 tablets. Family planning contraceptives have also not been spared.
Parallel market rates are reported to be at 300 percent to access the greenback, thus pharmacies are charging accordingly to obtain foreign currency to stock medication. Nyamande blamed the situation on lack of foreign currency.