Creation of Chilean Medication Observatory and analysis of a price comparison tool
6 diciembre 2017

The Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud or Minsal) published a decree on the measures that will begin to be applied in the coming months for the purpose of increasing participation by the various actors within the market and patient access to available products.
Medication Observatory
This will be the name of the advisory commission which will be responsible for making recommendations for the implementation of a price comparison tool. It will also be tasked with finding alternatives to launch a comprehensive assistance system for prescribing, dispensing, and monitoring pharmacotherapeutic products based on electronic prescriptions. In turn, it will seek to identify a way to improve the timely availability of the information needed to create or update medication policies (intended to enhance access, quality, and the rational use of these resources).
This special commission will be headed by the Undersecretary of Public Health (Jaime Burrows Oyarzún), together with the Undersecretary of Social Welfare (Ana Gisela Alarcón Rojas), the Director of the Public Health Institute (Instituto de Salud Pública or ISP) (Dr. Álex Figueroa Muñoz), the Undersecretary of Economics (Natalia Piergentili Domenech), the Director of the National Center of Procurement (Pablo Venegas Díaz), and the Director of the National Consumer Service (Servicio Nacional del Consumidor or Sernac) (Ernesto Muñoz Lamartine).
Work Group
This team, which is made up of 10 people, will work in collaboration with the commission and will seek to determine the feasibility of using a price comparison tool, thereby allowing people to cross-check the costs of various medications. Its specific functions will be more oriented toward the study of the judicial framework, to ensure that the planned instrument is able to be put into effect.
Other tasks will include reviewing what information will be provided by this tool, identifying the mechanisms that will be used to obtain the information, crafting a dissemination strategy, and writing a report on the results of the measure. The team will be overseen by a group of Minsal representatives, the Undersecretaries of Public Health and Welfare, the ISP, and Sernac.
It should be noted that the idea for this platform arose from the ISP during 2016 and it is expected to provide users with the information needed to assess aspects such as medication use, contraindications, and availability in pharmacies. In order to test its proper operation, a prototype-based pilot study will be conducted pursuant to the expectation that the National Congress will pass the Medications II Law (which mandates the publication of prescription prices as well as their submission to the authorities).
Collusion by pharmacies
Considering the large amounts of money earmarked for these items (due to lack of coverage by the insurance companies) along with the lawsuits filed against large pharmaceutical chains, both factors together have given rise to the emergence of communal pharmacies that facilitate access to medications available at cost. This situation is framed within a context where Sernac has also filed complaints against 11 establishments for ignoring the amounts published on medication lists and packaging without notifying their customers.
The topic has even reached the electoral campaign, where health official Sebastián Piñera (Chile Vamos) is promoting the idea of an online price comparison tool to put an end to the abusive practices that exploit and impact the most vulnerable members of society.

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