PHARMACY IN CAIRO — Some of the pharmacies in Cairo, the capital of the central African country of Chad, may be unable to keep pace with the demand for prescription drugs.
The country is struggling to absorb the flood of new medicines that the U.S. announced Tuesday, including a blockbuster antibiotic that can treat pneumonia.
Many of the medications are already in the hands of patients, who are paying high prices to get them.
And some pharmacies are struggling to make up for lost business due to the high cost of the drugs.
“The price of the medicine has increased significantly.
I can’t keep up,” said Ammar Khawam, the pharmacy manager at a local pharmacy in Caire’s southern suburb of Gagat.
Some pharmacies are also running out of the medicines, said Nader Mokhtar, the president of the local association for pharmacies.
Many pharmacies in the central coastal town of Bangui also reported shortages.
The problem, they said, is that some of the doctors and pharmacists in their network are working on contracts that require them to take medication from abroad.
Some of the pharmacy managers told ABC News that there was an increasing number of patients who are unable to pay the higher price because they have not been paid for the medications.
Many of the people who come to pharmacies to get their medicine have been working in their community for years, said Khawham.
Some are doctors, and many are in private practice.
The number of pharmacies in Chad has nearly doubled in the last year, to about 1,300, according to the United Nations.
In a sign that some pharmacies aren’t coping, pharmacies in neighboring Niger, which borders Chad, reported a rise in patient visits, including from neighboring countries like Chad.
Last year, Niger had a total of about 1.5 million visits to the country, according the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last week, Chad and Niger both announced that their borders would be closed to international humanitarian assistance in an attempt to prevent the spread of Ebola.
But many Chadians have still been unable to get treatment from outside the country.
In the United Arab Emirates, a hospital in Dubai, which serves some of Chad’s most vulnerable people, reported that the number of Ebola cases is “increasing daily,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Health.
The UAE is also concerned about the number and types of medicines available in pharmacies.
Last month, the ministry issued a statement saying that some people in the country have been prescribed drugs for a variety of illnesses that do not meet the legal standards for such prescriptions.
“It is imperative that all those who require treatment and who have the means to pay for it, be given a solution,” the statement said.ABC News’ Ben Siegel contributed to this report.