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Ceturtdiena 02.04.2020 | Name days: Imgarde, Irmgarde
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Latvian minister tackles pharmaceutical market to secure cheaper medicines for residents

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvia’s Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro plans to form a work group to assess the country’s national pharmaceutical policy and come up with a proposal to improve competition in this market.

One of the main objectives of this work group will be making sure medicines for patients in Latvia become cheaper and more accessible, as confirmed by the minister’s representative Beata Jonite.

It is planned that the work group will consist of representatives from Economy Ministry, Competition Council and Consumer Rights Protection Centre. Jonite confirmed in a telephone conversation to BNN that the work group will include representatives from the pharmaceutical industry. Work will commence once the group has been composed.

The minister’s representative told BNN that Healthcare Ministry has a similar work group. However, progress there is not active. Additionally, Economy Ministry’s work group will focus more on medicine prices in context of competition.

Nemiro explains: «As economy minister, I have identified potential problems in the pharmaceutical market that prevent this sector of the national economy from developing. The market’s existing competition is limited by certain rules. For example, there are special rules for pharmacies that produce medicines that establish a 500 m restrictive radius within which other businessmen are not allowed to open their own pharmacies. As a result, with no competition medicines are sold for high prices. This is only one of many existing problems on the market.»

The work group’s main objective will be developing a strategy and proposals to help organize the industry and secure fair competition. It is also stressed that the cost of medicines composes the biggest healthcare cost for patients in Latvia. The cost of compensated medicines is a major burden for the state budget.

The minister adds that it is a well-known fact that Latvia’s pharmaceutical market is very concentrated and medicine trade in Latvia is basically controlled by multiple large networks of pharmacies.

«The situation on the regulated market dominated by several large players is considered limiting for the competition and delaying for market development. This situation, which is close to a monopoly, does not contribute to healthy competition and perhaps even distorts the domestic market. This is also a major obstacle for us to ensure fair and economically justified price policy,» says Nemiro.

The minister says there is distortion of prices in the multi-level cooperation between manufacturers, wholesale traders, pharmacy networks, hospitals, doctors and clinics residents’ needs and solvency are not often considered, giving way instead to maximum profit. Medicines are divided into different groups, each with their own price-forming principles. As for prescribed medicines, compensated medicines are paid by the state, but the ones not included in the compensation system are paid for by the patient. The work group will assess all market segments and prevent obstacles that prevent formation of a healthy competition in the industry.


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