Photo; Diana Méndez, La Nacion
Photo; Diana Méndez, La Nacion

COSTA RICA NEWS — The cost of medications has seen increases this year, as a result of the apprecation of the dollar exchange rate.

Last January, the cost of medications was 3% higher compared to the same period in 2013. Ten months later, in October the cost was 7.2% higher that October 2013, according to the Precios del Consumidor (IPC) consumer price index, from the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC) – National Institute of Statistics and Census.

However, products that have seen increase above the average for medications are anti-allergic and analgesics, with increases of 11.7% and 10%, respectively.

The INEC measures monthly price variation of eight drugs. The entity takes into account those who are most in demand, regardless of the specific brands.

In Costa Rica, medications are sold over the counter (OTC). In 2013, the per capita spending on medications was ¢14.000 colones, according to estimates by Euromonitor International, a company specializing in market analysis.

The increase reported by INEC tells only a partial story, say retailers.

“The real increase is between 18% and 25%,” said Melixander Abarca, owner of the La Bomba pharmacy in San José.

Rodrigo Salas, president of Farmanova Intermed Group, notes that between 75% and 80% of all medications sold in the country are imported. A part of the locally manufactured drugs are based on imported raw material, thus are also affected by the exchange rate.

Businesses say the dollar exchange rate was the case of the increase, the exchange rate going from ¢503 colones in January to ¢550 in June, to one US dollar. The exchange rate today is ¢542.

Isaac Castro, Deputy Minister of Economy confirmed that the agency has begun a process of market review of drugs to determine which factors influence the price of medications sold in the country.

For Lorena Quirós, director of the College of Pharmacists, said the Government needs to analyze the factors that influence the price of drugs in the country.

The sale medications in Costa Rica in 2013 was ¢68.2 billion colones, according to Euromonitor.

Source: La Nacion

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