The bill number 1774/19, which provides for the release of the commercialization of over-the-counter medicines (MIP), must be voted on as a matter of urgency in the National Congress. Supported by the supermarket sector, the project is criticized by the Brazilian Association of Pharmacy and Drugstore Chains (Abrafarma).
On the one hand, the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets (Abras) argues that by allowing the sale of these products such as syrups and certain anti-allergic and anti-flu, among other labels, the increase in the number of points of sale would increase competition, which usually results in higher prices. lower.
The Association cites that there is a study that indicates that, when MIPs were sold in supermarkets, warehouses and convenience stores in Brazil, between 1994 and 1995, there was a reduction of up to 35% in the prices presented to consumers.
Sergio Mena Barreto, CEO of Abrafarma, however, questions what would be “the magic of supermarkets to drastically reduce prices on medicines, whose tax burden reaches 36%”.
A monitoring by Abrafarma points out that at least 2,670 items are more expensive in these establishments than in pharmacies, including mouthwashes, toothbrushes, disposable diapers and deodorants.
“Why would supermarkets and similar establishments sell medicines cheaper than pharmacies if they sell them more expensively in the various competing categories? In addition, supermarkets are the great villain of the inflation that we are experiencing in Brazil, currently, escalating prices of food and other products in an alarming way. Not satisfied, they now turn to destabilizing drug prices. We value the freedom of the market, but never at the expense of weakening the health system”, he contests.
Another positive point, in the supermarket view, would be the ease of access, which reduces the population’s need for stocking. “Currently, 22% of Brazilian municipalities do not have pharmacies, which makes life difficult for families who live in these regions”, says Abras in a statement.
“These are shallow and unjustifiable arguments”, counters Barreto, from Abrafarma. “MIPs are now available in more than 90,000 pharmacies across the country and, even outside the shelves, involve the support of a pharmaceutical professional in 77% of the cases. The pieces we launched on social networks reinforce that the health of Brazilians cannot be taken care of by the ‘corner vendor’”, criticizes the association’s CEO.
He says that these medications need to be accompanied by the guidance of a professional, whether regarding the indication of age group, as in relation to side effects such as drowsiness caused by certain substances, among other issues.
Abrafarma expressed its concern with the precariousness of the sale of medicines in an official communiqué to the deputies. One of the arguments cited in the document is that MIPs are an important segment of the pharmacy and represent more than 30% of sales. “Therefore, the economic impact on pharmacies (from large to small) will be disastrous,” writes the Association.
The entity brings together the 26 largest pharmacy chains in the country, which have more than 8,900 units in all Brazilian states, in addition to the Federal District. Associated networks represent about 45% of drug sales in the country.