A study conducted by IMS Health reveals that Chileans pay the highest prices for designer drugs in Latin America, but the country's generic medicines are the cheapest.
The study shows Chileans pay on average US$28.50 per package of patent drugs: that's 38 percent more than their neighbors Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru or Colombia. Brazil averages US$14.50 per brand-name medicine; Argentina, US$17.60.
According to Paula Daza, deputy secretary of public health, the reason is lack of transparency in the market chain: "According to the laboratories, it is the pharmacies that raise prices. The latter says it's the distributors that raise them."
Chile's Lower House has just approved the Pharmaceuticals Law II, which the Department of Public Health hopes will create more transparency in the production and sales chain of pharmaceuticals.
A representative from the Chamber of Pharmaceutical Innovation says the cost of medicine elsewhere in Latin America is lower simply because it's subsidized.
Brand-name medicines make up 35 percent of the pharma market in Chile, part of the reason families were spending 50 percent more on their medical bills in 2016 than they were in 2012.