World news wrapup: 30 November 2017


Cuts to Brazil’s medicines funding; UK bankruptcy risk; inspections under-resourced in India

Brazil: Pharmacies are being cut from Brazil’s “Farmácia Popular” or “People’s Pharmacy” program, a federal initiative which provides discounts on medicines that treat the country’s most common health problems, such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

According to The Brazilian Report, the Temer Government has already cut 400 pharmacies from the program and is now trying to renegotiate drug costs to government. Health Minister Ricardo Barros says these changes could save up to BRL600 million ($AUD246 million).

Under the scheme, Brazilians paid a small co-payment for the medicines, which are available at a minimum discount of 90%, while others were free. Ministry of Health data also shows that the Government has been paying pharmaceutical suppliers about 30% above average market prices, though Antônio Britto, president of Brazil’s Industrial Association for Pharmaceutical Research, says the Government has its figures wrong.

“This type of modification, if implemented, will make the Farmácia Popular program unfeasible,” he says.

Since the implementation of Farmácia Popular in 2004, hospitalisations related to hypertension, diabetes and asthma dropped by 20%.

“Denying these medicines to people is practically issuing a death sentence to millions of Brazilians who don’t have the means to pay for treatments,” says Humberto Costa, a Worker’s Party senator at the time and the program’s founder.

 

UK: Pharmacists struggling to manage cash flow issues relating to funding cuts and drug pricing will likely go bankrupt rather than closing their stores, according to a report in Chemist + Druggist.

C+D reports that Waqas Ahmad, superintendent pharmacist at Neils Pharmacy and Prescriptions Pharmacy in Prescot, says “independent contractors like myself can’t just close our pharmacy”.

“We have huge loans to pay off,” he says. “It will not lead to closures, but to bankruptcy.”

Mr Ahmad says the average item value for one of his pharmacies has dropped by £1.32 for the month of November – as opposed to its usual fluctuation of a couple of pennies, and leading to “massive cashflow problems” for the branch.

 

Delhi, India: India Today has warned that “there’s no guarantee that the medicine you are buying from a pharmacy is safe” as it revealed that the city has only 21 drug inspectors to oversee the city’s 25,000 pharmacies and blood banks.

While the number of inspectors has declined over the past 40 years, the number of pharmacies in the city has increased fivefold.

The inspectors carry out “raids” under the Drugs & Cosmetics Rule 1945 and their role is to ensure the sale and supply of quality medicines.

“Every month, each drug inspector has to collect at least three legal samples, 10 survey samples and two specimen samples. The main targets are the government and private hospitals and in a month there are about seven-eight raids,” a Government official told India Today.

Recently, “we have acted against 18 chemists who were caught red-handed selling habit forming drugs such as Avil, Diazepam, Proxyvon, Tramadol injections and Corex syrup that lead to substance abuse,” the official says.

“We have cancelled the licences of these shops that are located at Mahendra Park in north Delhi, Vishnu Garden in west Delhi, Vijay Vihar in north-west Delhi, and Seelampur in northeast Delhi.”

But the official warns that even after some shop licences were cancelled, pharmacists operated under a different name and continued to sell the medicines.

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