Brazil: Strike May Prompt Drug Shortages

Posted 04 September 2012 | By Ansis HelmanisRegLinkAlexander Gaffney

[Editor's note: the majority of Brazilian regulatory authorities ended their strike on Monday, 3 September 2012 according to Reuters. Approximately 10% of workers remain on strike.]

The Brazilian press is claiming that the ongoing strike of employees at the country's National Health Surveillance Agency, Anvisa, is threatening to create drug shortages throughout the country.  

"In the hospitals, concerns have grown over shortages of essential medicines and delays in scheduled operations," explained the BBC in a 27 August article. A report by the National Association of Private Hospitals noted 75% of its members had experienced a tightening supply of materials--something likely to be exacerbated as the strike, which has been ongoing since July 2012, continues.

Professionals have also expressed concerns about the integrity of drugs to be found in the country, as many police who might otherwise stop illicit products from being smuggled into the country are also on strike.

Anvisa Fires Back

Brazilian health officials were quick to fire back at the press' claims. Anvisa's CEO, Dirceu Barbano, stated that there is no shortage of medicines based on information that the agency has received as of August 30 from 14 drug companies concerning existing stocks.  The companies queried by Anvisa included Abbott, Lilly, Merck, J&J, Genzyme, and Novartis. 

Barbano conceded his agency remained concerned about the strike. "The big concern we have is to adopt measures to minimize the impact of the strike and that, in any way, manage fragility health," he said in an interview with Brazil Magazine. "We can not, because of the strike, adopt measures allowing entry to the country that has no product quality , origin not defined or even without legal authorization to market, "he said.

Anvisa also claims it has made ​​a concerted effort to expedite the release of imported medicines and health products at the airports in the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, easing potential shortages.


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