Panamanian and Guatemalan Congresses work on drug control initiatives
5 abril 2022


On April 5, Panama’s health sub-committee met to work and gather inputs to unify 6 bills that seek to regulate the prices and shortages of medicines in the country. During the session, representatives of private and public entities gave their technical opinions on the relevance of the initiatives presented. According to the head of the body, Mariano López (PRD – ruling party), it is expected that the agreed initiative will reach the plenary during the month of April to begin its discussion. On the other hand, on March 25, the Congress of Guatemala released the text of initiative 6051, which contains the General Law for the Control of the Quality and Price of Medicines. The text, presented by the Opposition Parliamentary Group (opposition), has yet to be sent to a committee to begin its legislative discussion. 

During the meeting of the Panamanian sub-committee, the participants of said space pointed out that the reforms must guarantee the independence of the Pharmacy and Drug Directorate of the Ministry of Health, expand the information on drug prices, modernize the inventory system of the Social Security Fund (CSS in Spanish) to ensure the traceability of drugs and simplify the sanitary registrations in case of emergency. For his part, Deputy López called for “speeding up” the unification of the bills with the objective of approving a unified text before April 30, the date of the end of the second period of ordinary sessions.

Regarding the Guatemalan initiative, in terms of quality, it proposes the creation of a Quality Control Laboratory to verify the safety, supply and production of medicines marketed in the country. In terms of prices, the text proposes to create a Drug Reference Pricing System to report the lowest prices in the market. In order to properly implement the reference price system, the Regional Drug Price Observatory of the United Nations Office for Project Services (ORMP-UNOPS) is recognized to facilitate drug procurement.