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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

MARIN, Gustavo H  and  POLACH, María Andrea. Costly drugs: analysis and proposals for the Mercosur countries. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.30, n.2, pp. 167-176. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892011000800009.

OBJECTIVE: Determine how the Mercosur countries access, regulate, and finance costly drugs and propose joint selection and financing strategies at the subregional level. METHODS: Qualitative design, using content analyses of primary and secondary sources, document reviews, interviews, focus groups, and case studies. The variables selected included: selection criteria, access, financing, and regulations in the various countries. Costly drugs were divided into those that do not alter the natural course of the disease and those with demonstrated efficacy, using the defined daily dose to compare the costs of classical treatments and those involving costly drugs. RESULTS: The Mercosur countries generally lack formal strategies for dealing with the demand for costly drugs, and governments and insurers wind up financing them by court order. The case studies show that there are costly drugs whose efficacy has not been established but that nonetheless generate demand. The fragmentation of procurement, international commitments with regard to intellectual property, and low negotiating power exponentially increase the price of costly drugs, putting health system finances in jeopardy. CONCLUSIONS: Costly drugs must be regulated and rationally selected so that only those that substantively benefit people are accepted. To finance the drugs so selected, common country strategies are needed that include such options as flexible in trade agreements, the creation of national resource funds, or joint procurement by countries to enhance their negotiating power.

Keywords : Right to health; pharmaceutical preparations; world health; drug costs; health economics; intellectual property.

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