HONDURAS AND PANAMA
The Honduran Ministry of Health (SESAL in Spanish) has announced its intention to adopt a blueprint for a law reforming the National Health System some time in 2021. The idea is to regulate essential drugs and joint purchases, among other points. The current version of the text was developed throughout 2020, but could still be subject to changes. So far the date for submission to Congress has not been confirmed, but this could happen in the short term. In other news, Deputy Zulay Rodríguez Lu (PRD – ruling party) presented a bill to reduce drug costs in the country by detailing a set of provisions to enable international drugs purchases. The bill is pending approval by the corresponding committee to begin its legislative process.
The Honduran draft outlines the duties to be undertaken by the SESAL, including the task of defining the national list of essential drugs, regulating their manufacture, ensuring that the appropriate quality analysis is carried out as well as regulating marketing and use to guarantee access and availability. The SESAL is also charged with drawing up a national policy for the acquisition, disposal, distribution and dispensing of medicines and other critical supplies. The intention seems to be to prioritize the use of joint and scaled purchasing mechanisms to guarantee the best conditions in terms of price, quality and opportunity.
The bill presented by Congresswoman Rodríguez Lu indicates that, in cases where there are no drug suppliers, the prices offered by local bidders need not be supported (or “justified”). Also, when registered suppliers do not participate in the tenders for medicines, the CSS may purchase directly from laboratories, manufacturers or their representatives in countries with the appropriate high standards or in those countries where products have a certificate of free sale and a certificate of good manufacturing practices from the laboratory or manufacturer. The CSS will be able to acquire medicines directly abroad, or immediately through international health organizations or with social security entities of other countries.