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Mercosur and Unasur establish a platform for the joint purchase of medicines
By: IP, 13-9-15
Translated by Anoosha Boralessa (February 2016). Not reviewed by bilaterals.org or any other organization or person.
The historic decision to break barriers to improve access to costly medicines was taken on Friday, during the “First Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministers of the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) ” and the “11th Meeting of the South American Council for Health”, through the establishment of a Platform for large scale Joint Purchase and a Regional Bank for Price Referencing.
Antonio Barrios, the Minister for Health in Paraguay and the current acting chairman of the Health Ministers in Mercosur, implemented this agreement together with the State parties and the Associated States. The agreement will facilitate access to medicines, notably, those to treat cancer.
“Oncological medicines, in particular, are not within the reach of persons nor the State itself due to the purchasing procedure and their high cost. This is a historic decision taken by brave ministers who have determined that, with a strong team, we can undertake to purchase medicines at a better price and that the negotiations are much more transparent and clearer, through a revolving fund, such as we do with other medicines. Nowadays, our urgency is illnesses that entail a high cost to Public Health”, he remarked.
He highlighted that, practically, it concerns a single document between Mercosur – Unasur, then the process is initiated in Mercosur and finished up in Unasur. “We share the same purpose and objective”, he pointed out, adding that it has now been agreed to establish a timetable for action to make this more effective, “because the sick cannot wait”.
It was in this context that at the meeting, he urged not wasting time and following up with specific actions, with synergy and efficiency transformed into reality, improving the coordination of actions and essentially, working to plug the gaps in purchasing costly medicines for citizens.
With the “Platform for Joint Purchase”, the negotiating power of the countries will be strengthened, with a large-scale purchase, aiming at purchasing at lower prices.
The “Bank of Reference Pricing” will be used to negotiate the price of medicines with laboratories on the basis of regional references. In principle, it will serve to share information on purchasing medicines, so that the negotiating process can be conducted transparently and with the participation of international organizations and civil societies or organizations of social control, and so that the purchase of products is negotiated jointly with the State Parties.
This, through the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee agreed by the Republic of Argentina, the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Republic of Paraguay, the Eastern Republic of Uruguay and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, as member states of Mercosur; and the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the Republic of Chile, the Republic of Colombia, the Republic of Ecuador and the Republic of Suriname, as Associate States of Mercosur, reported the Paraguayan Health Minister.