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Economy & Business - November 2019

Why are medicines so expensive in the Andean region?

Coverage of the political conflict in Venezuela over the past few years has frequently referenced shortages and sky-high prices of essential medications in that country, with humanitarian efforts focusing on opening up channels to supply Venezuelans with what they need. Yet this state of crisis is replicated to varying degrees across Latin America, not least the rest of the Andean region, with both individuals and governments far outspending their counterparts in Europe and even the United States when it comes to prescription medication. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reported in 2018 that pharmaceutical spending in Latin America and the Caribbean rose by an average of 12% per year between 2013 and 2017. The question is, why are countries not currently undergoing massive political and economic upheaval still struggling in this area?

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