During a press conference, the Minister of Health of Argentina, Daniel Golla, spoke about the abuse and extortion they are suffering from international laboratories. The Minister explains the proposal that Unasur countries must conduct in order to face together the power of companies to finally achieve the lowering of costs.
“What we are trying to make clear to the Ministers of Health of the region, in the Mercosur and the Unasur, is a historic document which jointly alleged the abuse and extortion we have been suffering from multinational laboratories”, commented the minister of health.
The consensus reached among Ministers gave us a wake up call on the impossibility of continuing on the same path, and from there, several alternatives arose: we must make joint purchases between countries to reduce costs; we should also discuss the creation of a regional bank such the one in Europe, which establishes that no country can afford one medication with a price higher than the average price paid by other three European countries.
This is important because, for example, Argentina pays three times more than Peru for some medicines, whereas they pay more than Argentina for other products, something that is unacceptable.
The negotiation has been always that complicated when it comes to drug prices; fortunately, Argentina has had as a negotiation pattern based on fixed prices set by Sigen (Sindicatura General de la Nación) which sets guidelines on what the State can pay in product-by-product tenders.
The solution so that everyone can access the medications they need, is definitely putting an end to the high prices, as Mr. Golla expressed: “if we pay during five years, treatments against hepatitis C at the price they are proposing to us, not the price to the first world countries, we would be paying the equivalent of two or two and a half of the total amount of the budget for the health of this Ministry. They would be about $ 25,000,000 that we would have to pay at the end of five years. We cannot afford that”.
Argentina is considering a strategy to lower the price of drugs. To do this, the country is trying to close some agreements between all the Ministers of Health of the Unasur, to show a consensual position at the meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) to expand the strategic Fund for acquisition of medicines on a large scale.
For example, a study by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that if generic medications had not developed, 90% of people with HIV in Africa, would have already died. This is a very important fact which shows the need to attack the high price of drugs. It is about public health, we need a fair price in order to massively distribute medicines to all who need them.