Gov’t allies want state involvement in drug production
Lawmakers from the ruling Victory Front (FpV) are pushing for the creation of a state-sponsored agency of public laboratories, which is expected to play a central role in the “production, investigation and development” of prescription drugs, Kirchnerite lawmaker Carolina Gaillard revealed yesterday.
“Making your own medicines is a way to promote national development,” Gaillard told newspaper Página/12.
The bill she signed along with a dozen Kirchnerite representatives seeks to create a National Agency of Public Laboratories (Anlap) that will group some 40 research laboratories led by provincial governments and national universities.
The objective, the bill says, “is to prevent the country from being held hostage by the monopolistic practices of big, private foreign laboratories” while at the same time promoting the production and supporting added value to the scientific work.
“If we consider health as a human right, medicine production cannot be left exclusively in the hands of private companies whose objective is profit,” the bill explains.
FpV lawmakers argue the creation of Anlap will give way to centralized purchasing from all state-sponsored laboratories “thus allowing the public system to become more competitive in the market.”
If approved, the measure would help the country produce the so-called orphan medicines — unprofitable pharmaceuticals aim at treating diseases affecting small number of patients.
The bill was also signed by lawmakers Andrea García (who chairs the Health Committee of the Lower House), Carlos Raimundi, Jorge Rivas and Adela Segarra. It entered the Lower House last Wednesday, a day after the national government ordered laboratories to decrease prices or risk hefty fines.
Until now, Argentina’s prescription-drug market is largely deregulated so the government barely intervenes in setting prices.
The state of the (medical) union
The Herald yesterday revealed there are some 250 domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies that operate in the country, with Roemmers, Bagó, Gador, Elea and Bayer leaving a large footprint on the sector.
According to estimates by prescription-drug experts, only 30 companies concentrate more than 75 percent of the sales in the country.
In the past few months, the majority of pharmaceutical products have seen price increases of more than 70 percent, a survey by the Trade Secretariat revealed.
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