Distribution of pharmaceutical products in costa rica


Distribution of pharmaceutical products: According to the General Health Law,
drugstores are responsible for the import, storage, distribution, and wholesale of
pharmaceutical products that are sold to the public through pharmacies. Although the law
provides two mechanisms (parallel imports and compulsory licenses) to increase competition
in the sector, in practice its enforcement has been impossible by the definition given to
establishments which has been included in the regulations. Due to the fact that it is required
for the importation to be exclusively from a laboratory located abroad, this makes it almost
impossible to find a third party in a country from which to import at a lower price, since this
third party must necessarily be a branch of the titular laboratory, and therefore its pricing
scheme obeys the interests of its parent company. 

This situation has implied that in practice
the products are imported directly by agreement between the pharmaceutical house and the
drugstores and often exclusively by a single drugstore (a situation that is left to the free decision
of the parties). In cases where, in practice, there is an exclusive distribution of a product in the
country, the situation obeys to a commercial reality of the market, however the regulations do
not allow the existence of monopolies in the distribution of products, so the existence of
exclusivity agreements would be anti-competitive and could lead to the imposition of fines for
its participants, a potential interested party could not be denied market participation on the
grounds of the existence of exclusive distribution agreements. Recently, the new government
announced a decree that aims to facilitate the parallel importation to achieve greater
competition and reduce the price to the consumers. Despite the above, critics have indicated
that the decree is not enough and that legal reforms are required to allow importation by any
party (not only drugstores) 

and also to regulate prices directly. For several years, the situation
of the high price of medicines in the country has been raised in the public discussion and there
are voices that clamor for the state to directly regulate the prices and even bills have been
proposed. There are currently several bills in discussion in that regard.

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