With many medicines no longer available in pharmacies, all manner of headache pills, blood pressure tablets, hemorrhoids ointments and drugs for skin diseases, are being sold on the streets and sidewalks.
This trade is not only occuring in liberated areas, or in the suburbs, but in different parts of the capital, Damascus, and within the walls of the Old City, in the vicinity of the Umayyad Mosque and the alleys of Bzouriah, a few hundred meters from Bab al-Jabiyah, where the directorates for ration control and health are located.
There is no doubt that the phenomenon is imposed by the chaos sweeping the whole country, leading to high prices and lack of availability, given the high demand. But there is a disaster looming, given the fact that many medicines displayed publicly on stalls in streets are being sold in unmarked containers that do not list the components, and without any expiry date. The vendors, often children, do not differentiate between the drugs.
The deadly drug market has led to an unregulated price market. Gauze has jumped from 15 to 50 Syrian Pounds, while the same price hike applies to heart and cancer drugs.
Central pharmacies, like the famous one in Arnous Square, which are supposed to be under the direct control of the Ministry of Health are almost empty, even of stomach ache medication Patients are often obliged to go to three pharmacies at least to get just one box and pharmacists are free to set the prices they want, telling patients that "this is what is available, if you do not want it, do not buy it".
Pharmacists make excuses saying the drug companies have imposed delivery taxes of between 10-15% on the price of the drugs, they pay significant amounts of money to distributors in uncontrolled market conditions. Some 80% of the painkillers, and 70% of the blood-pressure and diabetes drugs cannot be found in the market.
The pharmaceutical market is now controlled by brokerage, monopoly and overt fraud, and it is not surprising that this happens in the era of the two doctors; Assad and his Prime Minister.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer