Authorities in Turkey probe warnings of medicine shortages after lira crash

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Turkish authorities are probing discrepancies between records and actual supplies of some medicines, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday, after consumers, pharmacies and industry heads warned of disruptions to supplies due to a currency crash.

The ministry said discrepancies had been detected at 54 warehouses and 261 pharmacies, and investigations had begun.

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It “took action on allegations that access to some critical drugs became more difficult due to rising foreign exchange rates,” the ministry said.

The lira plunged some 25 percent in November, its fifth-worst month ever, after President Tayyip Erdogan defended aggressive interest rate cuts despite widespread criticism and inflation of near 20 percent.

As the lira hit a series of record lows, Turks told Reuters they were struggling to find some medications while sector leaders said stocks were shrinking and warned of supply disruptions due to import price spikes.

Nezih Barut, the chairman of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Turkey, said in an interview that some pharmaceuticals are not on the market due to the currency depreciation, which he called “unsustainable” for importers and manufacturers.

The Turkish Pharmacists Association said earlier this month there was already trouble accessing 645 medicines.

Turkey’s pharmaceutical market was worth 48 billion lira ($4 billion) last year with 24 billion lira in imports.

Read more: Turkey’s Erdogan stays firm on interest rates, lira weakens four percent

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