Turkish Cypriot pharmacies are the latest victims of the Turkish lira crisis as medicine shortages in the north have spiked in recent weeks, dangerously affecting patients who depend on certain drugs to stay alive.
According to statements by the general secretary of the Turkish Cypriot Association of Pharmacists Dicle Tekiner in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper “Yeni Duzen”, indicative of the seriousness of the situation is that at least one in four available drugs on the market no longer exists.
The problem appears to be caused by the exchange rate of the Turkish lira, as 80 per cent of the medicines available in Turkish Cypriot pharmacies are imported from Turkey.
In particular, the problem lies in the ability of Turkish pharmaceutical companies to produce medicines, since raw materials are bought from abroad and paid for in euros. However, the Turkish government has set a specific exchange rate at which pharmaceutical companies are paid for what they produce, which until December 14 was €1 to 7.86 Turkish lira, when the exchange value of the euro is around 19.85 lira.
The pharmaceutical industries, therefore, while paying for raw materials in euros, receive less than half of what they pay, with the result that they have long since drastically reduced the production of medicines in order to cope.
With the depletion of the stocks that existed on the market, only a small part of which is even destined for export to the north, serious shortages are being recorded in the north.
Turkish Cypriots are now often forced to go from one pharmacy to the next, in the hope that one will have at least one package of the medicine they need. But usually without success.
According to Tekiner, shortages are expected to continue for a few months as pharmaceutical companies are forced to reduce production even further in order to plan for the new year.
Meanwhile, pharmacies in the south of the island are an alternative source of supply of medicines, for the few that can afford it. However, the currency crisis has compounded the problems faced by Turkish Cypriots living in the north, with the Turkish lira on the basis of which workers are paid constantly losing its value.