The Attorney General’s Office has launched a preliminary investigation against several officials from the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and the Institute for the Control of Food and Medicines (INFIMA), due to their inaction regarding a possible shortage of medicines in the country.
The Disciplinary Instruction Chamber indicated that it has tried to get an effective response from the national government on this situation since October 2022, but there has been insufficient response. They sent communiqués with specific requests urging them to guarantee the continuous supply of essential medicines to the population, but without success.
The Public Ministry sent requests to the Minister of the Stock Exchange and to the Director of the Institute regarding the problems that arise for members of the general social security regime due to the lack of supplies, and requested information on the measures taken to resolve the situation. . , which even spawned a health alert ad.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered documentary and testimonial evidence to identify those responsible, establish the occurrence of the alleged irregular conduct and determine whether it constituted a disciplinary infraction or whether there was an action to exclude responsibility.
Invima about scarcity
The director of Envima, Francisco Rossi, pointed out that the state of shortage of some drugs that has occurred in recent months in Colombia corresponds to many factors and ruled out that this phenomenon was caused by EPS procedures.
“I want to say very clearly, it is not true that there is a deficiency because of the reform (in health) and it is not entirely true that I said that it was the fault of the EPS”, said Rossi during the Seventh Political Committee of the Chamber. inspection debate for which he was subpoenaed.
The official gave this explanation because he was asked about some of the statements he made during a workshop on drug shortages held on Friday, March 10th.
There, he indicated to EPS that they were lobbying against health care reform and claimed that pressure was being applied to the drug debate. “Explain to the people negotiating that EPS prefers not to buy because they don’t know if the deal will go ahead,” Rossi told reporters at the time.
“I don’t want to say that this is a violation of the EPS, I’m saying that it is a violation of the EPS. Around this there are complaints, condemnations and orders that the health watchdog complies with every day”, he said. officer said.
The statements caused great alarm among EPS-affiliated organizations. Indeed, the Colombian Association of Holistic Medicine Companies (Acemi), which brings together several EPS that focus on a contribution system, issued a statement opposing Rossi.
Asimi said: “The unfavorable opinions of the director of Envima harm the health system and do not provide any technical evidence to explain the phenomenon that the system is experiencing today”, and asked the director of Envima to “give solutions” and not “ transform” Discussion.
Rare drugs in Colombia
In general, among the principles with the most reported deficiencies (presentations and brand names), from highest to lowest:
Amlodipine alone or in combination
Calcium alone or in combination
Pancreatin alone or in combination
Among the exams requested by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, for example, according to the decision-making order, are in the possession of SEMANA:
Carry out a disciplinary examination by the National Institute for Food and Drug Control to verify the process and attach a copy of the documents of interest to the process regarding the following information:
Communications that ACEMI would have made during the second half of 2022 and so far in 2023, about possible shortages of medicines and/or 1,200 active principles.
Carry out a disciplinary examination by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection, to verify the process and attach a copy of the documents of interest to the procedure.
A few days ago, the lawyer Margarita Capello questioned whether the regional entities were really able to respond to the health system and made an “appeal to prudence” in making the decision.
“Mayors and governors will assume all the management of health risks in their territories and end up assuming primary care, which implies, in addition to coordinating the management of all actors, assuming collective risks, given the multiple guardianship actions and difficulties imposed by the assumption of these centralized authorities.
In addition, the lawyer underlined that the current health model has reached a coverage close to 99% after more than 30 years of development, and urged to identify the real capacities of the State to face the challenges that the implementation of this reform represents.
about drug shortages
The lawyer announced that the guardianship body is ready to open the corresponding disciplinary investigations due to the growing shortage of medicines and medical supplies in the country.
“Since last year, we have declared a shortage of more than 1,200 essential active ingredients to treat patients with chronic diseases,” said Capello.
Since mid-2022, the Public Ministry has been warning about this situation, notifying the Ministry of Health and Envima to take immediate measures to guarantee this sporadic supply of essential medicines. However, “the lack of results and the strong reactions forced the lawyer to trigger the disciplinary function”.
On the subject, the Seventh Committee of the Chamber of Deputies held a debate on the political control of Envima due to the state of drug shortages that has arisen in recent months, and whose reports have doubled in the last year.
“The report of drug stocks for more than 30 days is constantly increasing month by month. In January 2022 the report was 514 (cases) and in February 2023 that number doubled and we reached 1,066 (cases)”, said the Representative of the House of the U Party, Victor Manuel Salcedo.