DRUG PRICES IN PERU STAY STEADY AS FTA LOOMS

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The consumer price of pharmaceuticals in Peru, rose just 0.1% in October, significantly below inflation, due to strong competition among pharmaceutical chains and the government's continuing support of generic provision.

There is no national framework for pricing and reimbursement in Peru and the government's drug-purchasing strategy focuses on low costs. As such, multinational drugmakers operating in Peru are forced to lower their prices in order to compete with local producers. Also, cheap drug imports are becoming increasingly widespread in the country. Seven Peruvian drugmakers have recently announced that they are considering partnerships with Romanian companies in order to produce low-cost generics.

The government is promoting the use of generics as it attempts to reform the healthcare system, providing citizens greater access to medical services and a wider availability of treatment. Peru's essential drugs list registers medicines by active ingredient rather than brand name, encouraging generic substitution.

However, industry observers fear that prices are likely to rise in the near future, as the government clamps down on the wide prevalence of unauthorised copy and counterfeit drugs, which undercut the market. New municipal regulations in Lima have prohibited the informal sale of pharmaceuticals on the street. The health ministry and tax authorities will also work in partnership to help combat the trade in fake medicines. Meanwhile, there are also widespread concerns that a free trade agreement with the US will result in a sharp hike in drug prices.