October 21, 2005

A group of health experts in Argentina have criticised the government's drug distribution plan for low-income citizens, which delivers medicines free of charge. The calls follow a meeting in Buenos Aires aimed at boosting local production of drugs and vaccines.

The "Remediar" scheme distributes cheap drugs to roughly 2mn uninsured Argentines at 5,000 health centres, although there are plans to roll out the scheme to 15m citizens. Locally made generics already account for 75% of supplies, at a reported cost of US$233mn since 2002.

However, many health sector players complain that the scheme is inefficient and fails to reach its targeted users. The claims could now give added weight to the government's plans boost the local copy drug industry, which already accounts for more than half of drug sales in Argentina.