Brazil Government Mulls 50% Chronic Disease Drug Subsidy
The Brazilian government is planning a new measure to lower prices on treatments for chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension by as much as 50%. The move is part of efforts to bring the Popular Pharmacies initiative to the private sector, allowing lower-income groups greater access to healthcare. However, plans to include the private sector highlight the scheme's slow progress to date, despite a 45% increase in the country's budget for free essential medicines since 2003.
Meanwhile, officials have also announced a further measure for consumers who are reliant on the Single Health System, which distributes some free drugs to poorer citizens. From July, government purchasing of anti-hypertensives, diabetes treatments, asthma drugs and contraceptives will be brought within direct Ministry of Health control, in an effort to increase the state's bargaining power with distributors.
Brazil's retail sales of alimentary and metabolism and cardiovascular therapies respectively totalled US$828mn and US$663mn in the year to November 2004, compared to overall sales of US$4.95bn in the period. If the draft measure succeeds, it could imply a significant boost to sales of the products, although the changes are likely to favour generic medicines, in line with the government's general preference for the sector as a means of extending cheap healthcare to poorer Brazilians.