The government has initiated discussions with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to address public concerns over the quality of imported medicines. The objective is to import higher-quality ‘European standard’ pharmaceutical drugs, irrespective of the country of manufacture,” Minister of Health Dr. Abdulla Khaleel said, confirming the ongoing negotiations.

The government is willing to procure medicines from any manufacturer, according to Khaleel, provided they maintain high standards and quality. This initiative is part of the government’s broader efforts to rectify issues in the healthcare system, with the procurement of higher-quality medicines being accorded top priority.

“When we refer to ‘European standard’, it is not limited to medicines manufactured in European countries. It signifies medicines of the highest quality. We are open to procurement from any manufacturer, even those from neighbouring countries, provided they adhere to these high-quality standards,” stated Khaleel.

The discussions with the UNDP would also help the government address the inflated prices of medicines sold in the Maldives. The National Medicine Policy (NMP) 2024-2030, recently released by the ministry, revealed that medicines are imported and paid for at three to five times their actual price.

Khaleel expressed optimism that bulk purchasing would enable the government to acquire quality medicine at lower prices. He acknowledged the challenges to importing high-quality medication, attributing these to current policies on importing medicine. These policies are set to be revised and announced soon, he recently told a local media outlet.

Only medicines approved by the Maldives Food and Drug Authority (MFDA) are imported into the Maldives. The MFDA has currently approved 1,600 different drugs for importation.

The health ministry has previously stated that the prices of medicines imported into the Maldives and underwritten by Aasandha—the state’s healthcare insurance scheme—are significantly higher than their actual market rates. It attributed the unconsidered approach and corruption in procuring medicines to a lack of transparency.