A visit to a pharmacy is like a tour to a museum for many Ukrainians now. They rather come to check out the price tags than to buy anything. Pensioners, the biggest clients of pharmacies, have been suffering the most.
The hryvnia has seen 40-percent devaluation over the last month and an 11 percent tax has been levied on almost all imported goods. This has forced many Ukrainians to do without any medical treatment or to make do with traditional medication. The alternative therapies did not work for Natalia.
Druggists say clients have turned to buying the domestically produced manufactured medication. 70 percent of the imported drugs have Ukraine-made substitutes. Now the currency exchange rate has stabilized, but pharmacies do not seem willing to reduce the prices. And experts warn of a future rise in the prices.
The government is hoping to reduce prices by canceling a registration for the foreign medicines and monitoring retailers. Experts say that law initiative is a good start but it needs months to pass through the parliament while people need immediate help. In the meantime, they urge the government to lift obstacles like customs duties and taxes on medication.
Ukrainian patients are not protected by the state. While subsidies partially ease the pressure from the expensive utility bills, patients are left to face the unaffordable medicine costs on their own.
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