Tunisia: Medicine Shortage Exasperated by Wholesale Distributor Strike

by | Dec 11, 2022 | Economic, Social, Tunisia


On 5 December 2022, the Union of Wholesale Medicine Suppliers announced a labor strike. The strike was called to protest the government’s failure to respond to demands to reduce the tax burden on the industry. While the strike has since been postponed, the threat of ongoing disruptions and additional strikes remains. Meanwhile, the Union of Pharmacies, which represents the direct distributors of medicines, called for the implementation of tax exemptions for drug sales in 2022 due to the ongoing financial crisis linked to the Central Pharmacy of Tunisia. The government did not respond to the request for a tax exemption, which was issued previously in 2006.


The pharmaceutical market in Tunisia is experiencing acute medicine shortages, especially those related to the treatment of chronic and serious diseases. The Central Pharmacy is struggling to finance supply purchases as it has accumulated debts to suppliers estimated at 700 million Tunisian dinars (~$219 million dollars). Commentators and medical professionals continue to caution that the medicine shortage crisis will remain if the Central Pharmacy cannot access new funding. Additional recommendations have included a review of social programs, prices of some medicines, and the general investment environment for pharmaceuticals in Tunisia. With the recent departure of several major pharmaceutical firms from Tunisia, the challenges do not appear to be closer to resolution, meaning the risk environment will grow increasingly challenging from a healthcare perspective on the ground.