Struggle for Drug Sales Regulation

Deputies of the Guatemalan Congress ask that the agreement that regulates the commercialization of antibiotics and ophthalmological steroids, recently approved by the Executive Branch, be repealed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Controversy between representatives of the legislature and the executive began after the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (MSPAS) approved Agreement 181-2019 on August 7, 2019, which stipulates that antimicrobial drugs (oral and parenteral antibiotics) and ophthalmic steroids must be sold with a prescription. See full agreement.

For the members of the Human Rights Commission of the Congress of the Republic, the measure is not suitable in a context where health services cannot cover the entire population.

See "Medications: Sales Regulated in Guatemala

For that reason, Health Minister Carlos Soto was summoned to Congress to discuss the issue, but he did not attend, and it was his team that presented to the deputies the arguments of why it is necessary to regulate the sale of these medicines.

In statements to Prensalibre.com, Soto said that "... There are some Members who indicate that we are violating the human rights of the population. They say this forces people to go to the doctor to get a prescription for the antibiotic, but that's what it's all about. The agreement goes on, that agreement I don't take away'.

You may be interested in "Pharmaceuticals: Imports at the end of 2018

Edna Soto, a congresswoman for the Todos party and a member of the Congressional Human Rights Commission, explained that she is not "... in agreement with the law because it prohibits the right of Guatemalans to acquire medicines for the treatment of illnesses. I am of the idea that before imposing a law you must first socialize it with the population, or that it is going to be harmful or benefited, to avoid these problems, but we are not going to issue laws taking into account that they can violate the human rights of people."

Because the regulation will begin to apply in the coming weeks, the parliamentary commission requests the Human Rights Ombudsman (DPH) to issue an appeal to annul the ministerial agreement.

According to reports from CentralAmericaData, during 2018 the main buyer of pharmaceutical products in Central America was Costa Rica, with $777 million, followed by Guatemala, with $656 million, Panama, with $620 million, Honduras, with $500 million, Nicaragua, with $375 million and El Salvador, with $364 million.

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Deadline to Regulate Drug Sales

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The Ministry of Health of Guatemala published in the Official Newspaper the agreement that regulates the commercialization of antibiotics and ophthalmological steroids, and granted 30 days for pharmacies to begin to implement the restrictions.

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