To protect Omani pharmacists from foreign competition and to end the monopoly of unscrupulous traders, the Majlis Al Shura has proposed amendment to the law that allows people to practice pharmacy and start pharmacies, said a source from the legal committee of Majlis Al Shura.
One of the amendments prohibits pharmaceutical companies, warehouses and medical equipment suppliers from refusing to sell medicines or medical supplies to licenced pharmacies. It also prohibits them from forcing pharmacies to buy certain quantities of drugs or equipment only from them while charging them more.
It also prohibits the exercise of any activity that aims to monopolise the trading of pharmaceutical drugs or medical supplies. The source explained that the amendment was aimed at regulating the pharmaceutical market in the Sultanate and also protecting the consumer and the owners of small pharmacies from falling prey to the greed and selfishness of some traders and distributors.
It was also aimed at preventing traders from monopolising the market, while ensuring the availability of all types of medicines in pharmacies.
The amended Article 27 by the Majlis Al Shura also stipulated that a person cannot own more than one pharmacy and not open more than 10 branches of the same pharmacy.
“Determining the number of branches of each pharmacy is designed to encourage investment in the pharmacy sector and prevent a monopoly,” said the source.
The source added that determining the distance between each pharmacy was aimed at ensuring the availability and distribution over a greater area, while protecting the interests of the investor and trader on the one hand and providing a service to the consumer on the other.
The Majlis Al Shura also amended Article 11, which stipulated that only licenced pharmacists can run and manage pharmacies. The Minster of Health can exempt the nationality clause in case there are not enough Omani pharmacists.
The source pointed out that the amendment in Article 11 was aimed at protecting nationals from foreign competition in jobs and locations, and push for Omanisation in this important sector.
Jobs for Omanis
Welcoming the move, Naser Al Mashali, an Omani pharmacist working in a privately owned pharmacy, told the Times of Oman, that implementing such amendments would help Omani pharmacists looking for jobs in the future.
“Hundreds of nationals are waiting for job opportunities in the pharmacy sector in Oman, after many pharmacies have hired expatriates,” said Naser.
Observers believed that such amendments will break the monopoly and will give a fillip to investments in the pharmacy sector.