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Medicine prices, availability and affordability in Southern Brazil: a study of public and private facilities

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This paper evaluates medicine prices, their availability and affordability in Brazil, considering the differences across three types of medicines on the market (originator brands, generics and similar medicines) and different types of facilities (private pharmacies, public sector pharmacies and “popular pharmacies”), using an established methodology. Data on prices and availability of 50 medicines (originator brand, lowestpriced generic and similar medicines) were collected from public, private and popular pharmacies (N=56) across six cities in Southern Brazil. Median prices obtained are divided by international reference prices to derive the median price ratio (MPR). In the private sector, prices were 8.6 MPR for similar medicines, 11.3 MRP for generics and 18.7 MRP for originator brands, respectively. Mean availability was 65%, 74% and 48% for originator brands, generics and similars, respectively. The number of working days needed to pay for a complete medicine treatment (affordability) varied considerably between medicines aimed at treating acute and chronic diseases and by type of medicine. In the public sector, the mean availability of similar medicines was 2- 7 times higher than that of generics. The mean overall availability in the public sector ranged from 68.8% to 81.7%. In “popular pharmacies”, mean availability was greater than 90% in all cities. This analysis finds that availability of medicines in the public sector does not meet the challenge for supplying essential medicines to the entire population, as stated in the Brazilian constitution. This has unavoidable repercussions for affordability, particularly amongst the lower socio-economic strata. Policies targeted to reduce the prices of the generics need to be implemented in Brazil, as well as making them more widely available. Popular pharmacies may help overcome the lack of medicines in the public sector, but the limited number of medicines distributed in these facilities is of concern.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28864/1/WP18.pdf

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