Venezuela is crafting measures to address the pharmaceutical sector crisis
11 octubre 2017

Representatives from Letí, Genven, La Santé, Biotech, Cofasa, S.A. and Valmor labs held a meeting with Minister of Economics and Finance Ramón Lobos to assess short-term pricing on medications.

The official reported that recent agreements signed with India to strengthen medication distribution were evaluated. The agreement with India provides high-cost medications for the treatment of chronic diseases until the national production of these items is activated.

In turn, the president of the Pharmaceutical Industry Chamber (Cámara de la Industria Farmacéutica or Cifar), Tito López, explained that the large reduction in pharmaceutical production in recent years has resulted in the need to import supplies, further hindering access. Specifically, 98% of the supplies are of foreign origin. The figures speak for themselves: 4 years ago, there were 9,800 drugs being produced and that number today is close to 900, a reduction of more than 90% since 2013.

He indicated that in the past, transnational companies imported the necessary supplies but that currently there are only a few of these that are operational in the country. He clarified that “it is a matter of raw materials, and that demand exceeds supply because there are fewer providers.” He stated that the sector is using all means available to make the necessary changes and to increase the operativity of the pharmaceutical industry in collaboration with all actors within the system.

In any case, certain medications need to be imported since they are not produced in the country, such as insulin, asthma inhalers, and even items such as contraconceptives. “Hormone and metabolism products are not produced in the country,” he explained.

The sector’s marked dependence on external sources also implies major susceptibility to changes in the currency market. Modifications to the Dicom currency system present a source of uncertainty for the sector given that it is not yet known what currency will be employed to perform the transactions. To this end, López considered that the dollar and the euro are the only currencies that will serve this purpose.

In addition, the Cifar demanded that the authorities review the case involving the Autonomous Service for Standardization, Quality, Metrology, and Technical Regulations (Servicio Autónomo Nacional de Normalización, Calidad, Metrología y Reglamentos Técnicos or Sencamer): the reinstatement of Packaged Product Inspections (Controles de Productos Envasados or CPE), which is needed to market products, is pending.