Brazil Ends Tax for Over 1000 Drugs

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed May 19 a decree that exempts over one thousand medications from tax, which will contribute for a reduction of approximately 11% on final drugstore prices.

The measure was announced in São Paulo by the Minister of Health, Humberto Costa. According to him, this is another initiative by the Brazilian government to increase population’s access to medications.


The exemption includes 60 types of drugs, among them, antidepressant, hypertension, birth control, diabetes, anti-inflammatory, and antiretroviral. Patients under treatment for Hepatitis B and C will also benefit from the measure.


In order to lower prices of medicine, Brazil has also plans to allow the sale of smaller amounts of medicine than the whole bottle.


The chief benefit foreseen by the government and sectors of society that support the fractionalized sale of medications proposed by the National Sanitary Protection Agency (Anvisa) is the cost savings to the population, which will be able to purchase the exact amount indicated in the prescription. 


Another potential benefit of fractionalized sales is to reduce the possibility of self-medication, a problem due mainly to leftover medicines.


The Anvisa estimates that 20% of medicines go to waste in Brazilian hospitals. Data from the Brazilian Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry (Febrafarma) show that earnings in this sector amounted to US$ 7.7 billion (19.8 billion reais) last year.


That means that the country wastes around US$ 1.5 billion (4 billion reais) each year. The State alone, which buys 25% of all remedies that are sold, could save US$ 390 million (1 billion reais).


Remedies that come in the form of vials, ampoules, and pills, for example, can be fractionalized. To purchase a fractionalized remedy, consumers should present the doctor’s or dentist’s prescription, which will be returned stamped and signed by the pharmacist with a declaration that the medication was delivered. Fractionalized medicine should be accompanied by a set of directions for each patient.


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