Algeria has announced plans to prohibit the import of up to 800 drugs from foreign countries in a bid to boost the local pharmaceutical industry.

Algeria has already stopped importing around 300 drugs as the Ministry of Health aims to reduce the country’s import bill of $1.8bn, which is a result of 70% of pharmaceutical products being brought in from abroad.

The country is seeking to boost its current production to 30% of its needs, increasing the current essential drugs production level of 15% to 16% to around 80% to 90%.

Algerian Ministry of Health director of pharmacy Lounes Smati said that Algeria would produce significantly more drugs in two to three years.

“We are forcing drug makers to extend the range to produce higher quantities, from 330 to 700 or 800 INN in two to three years,” Smati said.

The Ministry of Health will establish a list of essential drugs and look for means to convince manufacturers to produce them.