Patients in Dubai suffering from serious illnesses such as diabetes will benefit from a 20% reduction in drug costs following a Ministry of Health directive.

The first batch of price cuts, which applies to 67 drugs from pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer and Merck Sharp & Dohme, becomes effective as of 1 July, with the remaining 498 drugs becoming cheaper on 1 September.

Drugs becoming cheaper as of 1 July include Pfizer’s Liptor and Xanax medications, used to treat high cholesterol and anxiety disorders respectively, and Merck’s Januvia, which is used to lower blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

Other pharmaceutical companies lending their support to the programme include AztraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Sanofi-Aventis and Novartis Pharma.