Alert: It is increasingly difficult to buy prescription drugs in Brazil

The high cost of the medicine prescribed by the physician remains the greatest obstacle to the population's access to the basic right to health, provided for in the Constitution. The weight of taxes on prescription drugs sold in Brazil exceeds that of 37 other countries that are part of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the BRIC group.

According to studies compiled by the Association of the Pharmaceutical Research Industry (Interfarma), more than 71% of medicines are purchased directly by the population, a percentage much higher than the government's participation in the supply of medicines. In addition, when paying for the medicine at the pharmacy, 34% of the price of the medicine refers to 86 taxes on the product. For the executive president of Interfarma, Antonio Britto, "there is a direct relationship between the difficulty of access to the medicine and the weight of the taxes".

These and other data are contained in the publication “Tributos e Medicamentos”, which analyzes the tax structure of the pharmaceutical sector in Brazil and other countries. The work was launched on August 20 by Interfarma, during the Seminar “Medicamentos & Tributos”, held by the Association in partnership with the newspaper Valor Econômico. Organized by professors Eduardo Perillo and Maria Cristina Sanches Amorim, researchers in economics at PUC / SP, the book brings contributions from several researchers from Brazilian and foreign universities.

In his lecture at the event, Professor of Health Policies at Imperial College London, Nick Bosanquet, presented a survey on the weight of taxes in several countries, which clearly shows that the incidence of taxes on prescription drugs in Brazil is greater than 37 OECD countries and also other BRICS members. There are 86 taxes, fees and levies on products, whose rate reaches 28%.

"We are far from offering the social well-being provided by nations that, despite having higher tax burdens than Brazil, have high levels of return to the population from the taxes paid," said ETCO's chief executive, Roberto Abdenur, referring to to countries like Australia, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland.

During the event, Interfarma declared its support for initiatives that seek to reduce or eliminate taxes on the medicine in Brazil, such as the Parliamentary Front for the Reduction of Taxes on Medicines, a joint initiative of the Brazilian Association of Drug Distributors National Laboratories (Abradilan), the Brazilian Association of Wholesale Pharmaceuticals (Abafarma), the Brazilian Association of Pharmacy and Drugstore Networks (Abrafarma) and the Brazilian Association of Pharmaceutical Trade (ABCFarma).

In addition, Interfarma supports the Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC) authored by Senator Paulo Bauer, which exempts medicines for human use from taxes, and also the Bill of Congressman José Antônio Machado Regufe, which proposes the exemption of taxes on essential medicines.

Among all the taxes levied on medicines today, one of them is PIS / Cofins, a federal tax that is exempt for 65% of products with a medical prescription for chronic diseases. Interfarma claims that the government extends this exemption to all drugs. The entity also supports the reduction of State ICMS and interstate ICMS to a rate of 7%.