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News > Latin America

Chile Launches 1st 'People's Pharmacy'

  • Chile's new People's Pharmacy in Recoleta neighborhood offers medicine at up to 70 percent cheaper than chain pharmacies.

    Chile's new People's Pharmacy in Recoleta neighborhood offers medicine at up to 70 percent cheaper than chain pharmacies. | Photo: AFP

Published 12 November 2015

Chile's first municipal pharmacy, in a poor neighborhood of Santiago, offers vulnerable people medicine up to 70 percent less the usual cost.

Residents of a poor neighborhood in Chile’s capital city Santiago will now be able to get the medicines they need at a much more affordable price, thanks to a new working-class municipal pharmacy.

The mayor of the Recoleta area of northern Santiago, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, declared the “People’s Pharmacy” a success on Thursday after launching it last month with the support of the country’s Public Health Institute.

“People’s Pharmacy: ‘The best municipal outreach of the last two years.’”

“Today we can proudly say that this project has reached its goal and that in an act of collective love, solidarity, and responsibility on the part of the state we have inaugurated the first municipal pharmacy in Chile, which will allow all residents of Recoleta to access medicine that basic health does not cover, at prices up to 70 percent cheaper than in this market that thrives on sickness and death,” wrote Recoleta Mayor Daniel Jadue in a local newsletter on Thursday.

The new Ricardo Silva Soto People’s Pharmacy, named after the Chilean pharmaceutical student killed during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in 1987, currently serves 240 local residents through the “Health Solidarity” program, although service is expected to be extended in the coming months.

RELATED: Chile Demands Justice for Pinochet Victims

A system of subsidies and the elimination of intermediaries in the process of purchasing medicine helps the working-class pharmacy offer medication at drastically reduced prices compared to the cost of the same products in large chain pharmacies.

“The tremendous differences in prices are incredible.” Graph shows the price of products in the People’s Pharmacy compared to chain pharmacies.

“The right to health, even though is a universal right as such, does not exist in our country,” wrote Jadue. “Against it are threats from private interests that, without caring about people’s lives, just use health benefits to make money at the expense of the sick.”

Recoleta’s working-class pharmacy, on the other hand, aims to prioritize the poor and most vulnerable people who are excluded from the market-led system, Jadue explained.

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The success and benefits of the pharmacy project has sparked interest in at least 126 other Chilean municipalities, where mayors are considering following the Recoleta model, El Telegrafo reported.

“It is indispensable that we make ourselves available as a society to defend this achievement,” said Jadue, “to consolidate it and promote its replication throughout the country to start to eliminate profit in the area of health.”

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