On May 16th, the Agency for Consumer Protection and Defense of Competition (Acodeco) requested the Ministry of Health and the Social Security Fund (CSS) to add drugs to the current basic basket. The objective is to make drugs more affordable for Panamanians. With the dialogue between these institutions, it is possible that a price control mechanism for drugs may be created. So far there is no official date for the end of negotiations, but it is expected to end in September 2018.
The current drugs basic basket was established in 2014 and covers the population in 40 active ingredients at cheaper prices than those offered by the market. However, from Acodeco they consider it insufficient, and are seeking to expand the drugs covered. While they argue that drug prices continue to increase whether or not they are part of the basic basket, they recognize that prices go up less when they are part of it. According to that they demand the extension of coverage.
Regarding the increase in prices, in the Legislative branch there is a bill that proposes the creation of a National Center for the Purchase of Drugs, an initiative that could achieve better prices for the acquisition of drugs. The bill will continue under analysis in the National Assembly next July. While this initiative advances in the plenary session, the Ministry of Health will have more room to maneuver to sustain its position of not regulating drug prices. Acodeco will insist on enlarging the drugs basic basket. The talks between these two bodies are expected to conclude in September.