NO SHORTAGE OF MEDICINES IN THE UAE, CLAIMS GOVERNMENT

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Government officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have denied reports that there is a shortage of medicines in the country. It has been alleged that international drugmakers have stopped supplying drugs due to a lack of payment.

According to reports, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has a debt of over AED200mn (US$54.45mn) owed to four of five foreign drug firms. These firms have threatened to halt supplies unless payment is forthcoming. However, the MoH claims that it is currently negotiating terms to cover the debts and has sufficient stockpiles of medicines to cover demand until March 2006.

Industry sources claim that the MoH is confident that it will reach a deal with these drug companies before back-up provisions run out. As a result, neither hospitals nor patients are expected to suffer due to a lack of drugs or medical supplies, although an increase in the nation's drug budget is deemed unlikely. Local observers claim that there a currently some drug shortages in the north of the country -- including life-saving treatments.