Prices for most medicine headed down; pharmaceutical companies and government say earlier reports of large price increases were untrue

Feb 1, 2015

New Ministry of Health rules will lower the prices for most of the 1,700 medicines sold in Ecuador by an average of 30% over the next six months.

Ecuador's pharmacies will change prices over the next 180 days.

Ecuador’s pharmacies will change prices over the next 180 days.

The ministry is imposing price ceilings on drugs it considers “strategic” but is eliminating price controls on “non-strategic” drugs.

Ecuador’s Association of Pharmaceutical Laboratories said prices for strategic drugs may drop by more than 30%, with prices for many drugs dropping 60% and 200%. Strategic drugs include antibiotics, analgesics and other drugs that treat catastrophic illnesses.

Director of the association Carló Renato Paredes said that reports earlier in the week that the prices of some drugs would increase 300% was false. “Prices for many drugs that are considered non-strategic have been frozen by the government since 2003 and the costs for many of these will rise 10% to 20%,” he said. “The news media was wrong about the 300% increase.”

According to Paredes, non-strategic drugs include such products as medicated shampoo and facial creams.

Ministry of Health secretary Veronica Espinoza announced the new drug rules in a press conference on Monday. On Thursday, the government issued the list of over 1,700 strategic products that will have price controls. Paredes said that the pharmaceutical industry had been consulted in advance by the government.

”The measure will not only benefit consumers but the national pharmaceutical industry as well,” Parades said. “The new rules will allow more market competition in the area of non-strategic medications and frees the industry from a number of regulations.”

Parades said that many details remain to be resolved and that pharmaceutical companies are in discussion with the Ministry of Health.