CAIRO (AP) - The Egyptian pound has dropped to record lows in the past week in the black market, hovering between 9 and 9.25 per dollar, as importers struggle to find dollars for their operations and pressure mounts on the central bank to devalue the pound.

CAIRO (AP) The Egyptian pound has dropped to record lows in the past week in the black market, hovering between 9 and 9.25 per dollar, as importers struggle to find dollars for their operations and pressure mounts on the central bank to devalue the pound.

A banking source also said the central bank has this week directed local banks to prioritize giving dollars to pharmaceutical companies to import medicine and supplies.

"They have been delayed for a while, like everyone else is, but they definitely should have the priority," said Hany Farahat, a senior economist at CI Capital in Egypt.

Net international reserves have remained around $16.5 billion in recent months, following declines from $36 billion in December 2010, a month before the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.