Lebanon has been short of medicine for 10 years, forcing tens of thousands of people to fend for themselves and struggling hospitals to endure ever-steeper expense for increasingly rare inventory. The situation has worsened this year, in large part because of the political deadlock in the capital.
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs warned last month that the shortage would end up costing the nation an additional $100 million because of shortages in essential medicines and supplies, including antibiotics, analgesics, anti-inflammatories, painkillers, anti-cancer drugs, oncology support for chemotherapy patients, vitamin supplements, vaccines and surgical equipment.
Between 1990 and 2011, the ministry said, the nation faced 14 shortages of essential medicines or supplies. Last year, there were 22, and this year there have been 28.
Those shortages have been blamed on the bottlenecks that plague the quality, inspection and control of pharmaceutical products, said Ali Akbar Ali, a scientist and a member of the Save Our Supply committee, which works to ensure availability of essential medicines in Lebanon.