Brazil's average tariffs on essential drugs and medical devices are 38%, among the highest in the world, according to a recent study by the No Taxes on Drugs and Devices Initiative (NtDDi). The body is calling for the country to drop taxes and tariffs on all life-saving medicines to improve access for the country's population.
However, the Brazilian government is worried that such a move will endanger local drug production. There are currently some 550 pharmaceutical companies in Brazil, employing around 23,000 people and accounting for 90% of domestic consumption.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has criticised this stance, claiming that strict tariff regimes endanger lives. Foreign drugmakers claim that Brazil is displaying double standards. After all, the government demanded Abbott Laboratories reduce its price for HIV/AIDS treatment Kaletra, claiming that lives were at risk, yet it supports prohibitive tariffs for a number of treatments for chronic diseases. The NtDDi estimates that a 1% drop in tariffs and taxes would increase access to essential drugs by 1%.