LatinNews Daily - 17 August 2022

In brief: Panama seeks to further cut cost of medicines

* Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo has signed a decree removing restrictions on the import of medicines as part of efforts to lower the costs of medicines – one of the demands of protest groups currently negotiating with the government as part of efforts to end what became the biggest protests to rock the country in recent years over soaring living costs. The decree repeals an executive decree signed in May 2019 and amends legislation from 2001 on medicines. Under the changes pharmacies will be able to import medicines approved by the health registry for themselves, bypassing importers, among other things. President Cortizo said that this should result in cheaper prices for quality, effective medicines for Panamanians. This follows a decree issued on 10 August by Cortizo which reduces the prices of 170 medicines by 30% – a move which has proven unpopular with small and medium sized pharmacies and which the national union of pharmacy owners (Unprofa) warned would force many into bankruptcy. On 15 August, 450 small pharmacies closed their doors in protest at the decree.

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