The Cuestamoras group has announced the purchase of a majority in the Cefa-Fischel corporation, which operates a chain of pharmacies present in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, in addition to laboratories and other drug distributors.
The purchase request was filed with the Commission to Promote Competition by Cuestamoras on May 8, and is subject to approval.
The Ministry of Health has announced that it has agreed to pay in November $13.1 million of the $73 million that it owes for the purchase of medicines, and the rest in the first quarter of 2015.
After having made a payment a few days ago of $3.2 million, part of the total debt of which the state owes pharmaceutical companies, the government announced that an agreement has been reached for the remaining payments, one part will be paid this month and the balance next year.
Although the government has agreed to pay of the $41 million debt with the pharmaceutical companies, not all of them are participating in tenders for medicines.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Finance agreed this year to pay a portion of the debt, of $16.4 million, but only $3.2 million would be paid immediately and the remaining amount during the month of November.
The arrival of Honduran chain Kielsa has raised fears over a market takeover and monopolistic practices.
"This is a Honduran chain entering the market using the hook of discounts and low prices, supposedly favoring large wholesalers, bankrupting small and medium business, and without any counterbalancing competition, they are the owners of the market," said the president of the United Pharmacy Association of Nicaragua (AFUN), Alberto Lacayo.
New distributors, more chain pharmacies and new alliances are examples of the dynamism in the sector.
One example is the newly founded company KPO Alpha, dedicated to distribution, which has found an interesting market opportunity: independent pharmacies, a business where the partners Leonardo and Maria Acuna, together with their team cater to around 260 shops.
A study by the Universidad de Costa Rica notes that one company controls the distribution of 80% of drugs sold, with price differences of up to 1,000%.
An article in Nacion.com reports that there is "little or no competition in the private sector of medicine, product of an industry that is "highly concentrated", causing Costa Rica to have higher drug prices compared to other Central American countries."
More than 700 small pharmacies are still struggling to survive against the competitive advantages of the big chains and supermarkets.
Most of them form the National Union of Pharmacy Owners (Unprofa), whose president Orlando Perez acknowledged that "supermarkets and large pharmacy chains, represent strong competition for the small scale places, seeing the sale of drugs as a business rather than a social service for their communities. "
Five pharmaceutical laboratories set up the Affluentes consortium to export to three countries in the Caribbean Community starting next year.
Affluentes, S.A. de C.V. is comprised of HealthCo, Paill, Gamma, Teramed and Pazepharm Laboratories. Some of these laboratories already export to Central America, USA, Dominican Republic, Panama and Belize but anticipate good business opportunities in the Caribbean and South America.
Laboratorios Microsules is a Uruguayan company, which has been in both, the local and international market for twenty years, manufacturing, synthesising, commercialising and distributing medicines for animal health.
Operates in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama
Phone: (00598) 98165211 - (00598) 99728874