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Costs of Public Pharmaceutical Services in Rio de Janeiro Compared to Farmácia Popular Program

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE

To analyze the costs of public pharmaceutical services compared to Farmácia Popular Program (Popular Pharmacy Program).

METHODS

Comparison between prices paid by Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular Program (Farmácia Popular is available here) with the full costs of medicine provision by the Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro. The comparison comprised 25 medicines supplied by both the municipal pharmaceutical service and Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular Program. Calculating the cost per pharmaceutical unit of each medicine included expenditure by Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro with procurement (price), logistics, and local dispensation. The reference price of medicines paid by Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular was taken from the Brazilian Ministry of Health standard in force in 2012. Comparisons included full reference price; reference price minus 10.0% copayment by users; and maximum reference paid by the Ministry of Health (minus copayment and taxes). Simulations were carried out of the differences between the costs of Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro with the common medicines and those potentially incurred based on the reference price of Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular.

RESULTS

The Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro spent R$28,526,526.57 with 25 medicines of the common list in 2012; 58.7% accounted for direct procurement costs. The estimated costs of the Health Department were generally lower than the reference prices of the Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular Program for 20 medicines, regardless of reference prices. The potential costs incurred by Health Department if expenditure of its consumption pattern were based on the reference prices of Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular would be R$124,170,777.76, considering the best scenario of payment by the Brazilian Ministry of Health (90.0% of the reference price, minus taxes).

CONCLUSIONS

The difference in costs between public provision by Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro and Farmácia Popular Program indicates that some reference prices could be reviewed aiming at their reduction.

Pharmaceutical Services, economics; Drug Costs; Drugs, Essential, supply & distribution; Costs and Cost Analysis; Health Economics; National Policy of Pharmaceutical Assistance

RESUMO

OBJETIVO

Analisar custos da assistência farmacêutica pública frente ao Programa Farmácia Popular.

MÉTODOS

Comparação entre os valores pagos pelo Programa Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular com os custos integrais relativos à provisão de medicamentos pela Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro. A comparação compreendeu 25 medicamentos, comuns tanto à provisão pela assistência farmacêutica pública municipal quanto pelo Programa Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular. O cálculo do custo unitário por unidade farmacotécnica de cada medicamento envolveu os gastos da Secretaria Municipal de Saúde com custos de aquisição (preço), logísticos e com a dispensação em nível local. O valor de referência dos medicamentos pago pelo Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular foi extraído da norma ministerial em vigor em 2012. As comparações envolveram o valor de referência pleno; valor de referência com desconto dos 10,0% pagos de contrapartida pelos usuários; e valor de referência máximo pago pelo Ministério da Saúde (descontados contrapartida e sem impostos).Foram realizadas simulações das diferenças entre os gastos da Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro com os medicamentos do elenco comum e os que seriam incorridos se esses tivessem sido executados com base no valor de referência do Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular.

RESULTADOS

A Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro gastou R$28.526.526,57 com 25 medicamentos do rol comum em 2012; 58,7% corresponderam a custos diretos com a aquisição dos produtos. Os custos estimados da Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro foram, em geral, menores que os valores de referência do Programa Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular em 20 medicamentos, independentemente dos valores de referência. Os custos que seriam incorridos pela Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro, caso seu padrão de consumo tivesse como valor de pagamento os valores de referência do Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular seriam de R$124.170.777,76 considerando a melhor situação de pagamento pelo Ministério da Saúde (90,0% do valor de referência, com impostos descontados).

CONCLUSÕES

A diferença de custos entre a provisão pública pela Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro e o Programa Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular sinaliza que alguns valores de referência poderiam ser objetos de exame para sua redução.

Assistência Farmacêutica, economia; Custos de Medicamentos; Medicamentos Essenciais, provisão & distribuição; Custos e Análise de Custo; Economia da Saúde; Política Nacional de Assistência Farmacêutica

INTRODUCTION

Difficulties in access to medicines due to their high share in private household spending in Brazil1616. Silveira FG, Osório RG, Piola SF. Os gastos das famílias com saúde. Cienc Saude Coletiva. 2002;7(4):719-31. DOI:10.1590/S1413-81232002000400009
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-8123200200...
and supply problems in public units of the Brazilian Unified Health System (SUS)22. Boing AC, Bertoldi AD, Boing AF, Bastos JL, Peres KG. Acesso a medicamentos no setor público: análise de usuários do Sistema Único de Saúde no Brasil. Cad Saude Publica. 2013;29(4):691-701. DOI:10.1590/S0102-311X2013000400007
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X201300...
justified the introduction of Farmácia Popular Program (PFPB) by the Brazilian Ministry of Health (MH) in 20041313. Santos-Pinto CDB. Copagamento como ampliação do acesso a medicamentos: Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil. In: Osorio-de-Castro CGS, Luiza VL, Castilho SR, Oliveira MA, Jaramilo NM, organizadores. Assistência farmacêutica: gestão e prática para profissionais da saúde. Rio de Janeiro (RJ): Editora Fiocruz; 2014. p. 355-362.. Its creation, however, did not alter the responsibilities of municipalities in the provision of medicines from SUS.

The program expanded into arrangements involving the public and private sectors. It has its own network of pharmacies and a public-private partnership with the retail pharmaceutical sector, both of them with or without copayment by users.

The number of pharmacies accredited by the private division of PFPB, called Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular, increased over 750% in 2006-2013 and was responsible for the program’s geographical spread1515. Silva RM, Caetano R. Programa “Farmácia Popular do Brasil”: caracterização e evolução entre 2004-2012. Cienc Saude Coletiva. 2015;20(10):2943-56. DOI:10.1590/1413-812320152010.17352014
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232015201...
. It has its own rules of operation and includes 41 products to treat the most prevalent diseases in the population, most of which feature in the basic list provided by pharmacies from the SUS network. A list of antihypertensive, antidiabetic and antiasthmatic medicines is exempt from co-financing33. Emmerick ICM, Nascimento JM, Pereira MA, Luiza VL, Ross-Degnan D. Farmácia Popular Program: changes in geographic accessibility of medicines during ten years of a medicine subsidy policy in Brazil. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2015;8(1):10. DOI:10.1186/s40545-015-0030-x
https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-015-0030-...
,1313. Santos-Pinto CDB. Copagamento como ampliação do acesso a medicamentos: Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil. In: Osorio-de-Castro CGS, Luiza VL, Castilho SR, Oliveira MA, Jaramilo NM, organizadores. Assistência farmacêutica: gestão e prática para profissionais da saúde. Rio de Janeiro (RJ): Editora Fiocruz; 2014. p. 355-362.,1515. Silva RM, Caetano R. Programa “Farmácia Popular do Brasil”: caracterização e evolução entre 2004-2012. Cienc Saude Coletiva. 2015;20(10):2943-56. DOI:10.1590/1413-812320152010.17352014
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232015201...
.

The Ministry of Health’s direct disbursement to the accredited retail network is based on a reference price (RP) per medicine. This price is valid for the entire country and comprises, in addition to the procurement price, costs related to logistics, dispensation and maintenance of pharmacies, insurance and taxes.

The costs of the ATFP Program are subject to questioning within the public model for provision of access. An audit by Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU – Federal Court of Accounts) raised the debate on the differences in prices found in public tenders compared to those in the Program. The audit identified a huge discrepancy between the RP paid by ATFP and the prices of 13 medicines purchased by the public sector in April 2010. For four of them, the difference between the RP and the average procurement price exceeded 1,000%a a Tribunal de Contas da União. Relatório de auditoria operacional: farmácia popular. Brasília (DF): Tribunal de Contas da União; 2011 [cited 20 Oct 2013]. Available from: http://portal.tcu.gov.br/lumis/portal/file/fileDownload.jsp?inline=1&fileId=8A8182A14D6E85DD014D7327A82819E4 . TCU pointed out that simple comparison with bidding prices was not enough to establish whether one program is more efficient than the other, and therefore studies considering other costs involved are necessary.

New medicine supply arrangements in Brazil are important strategies to back policies aimed at expanding access. However, they lack data to support analyses of funding sustainability and more efficient use of public resources.

This study aimed to analyze the costs of public pharmaceutical services compared to Farmácia Popular Program.

METHODS

A comparative study of costs (in reais – R$) of the two models of pharmaceutical services (PS), the ATFP Program and public services, in Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil, in 2012.

Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro (SMS-RJ – Municipal Health Department of Rio de Janeiro) has a recognized track record of efficiency in the procurement of medicinesb b Câmara dos Deputados. Relatório da CPI: medicamentos. Brasília (DF): Câmara dos Deputados; 2000 [cited 10 Jan 2014]. Available from: http://www2.camara.leg.br/atividade-legislativa/comissoes/comissoes-temporarias/parlamentar-de-inquerito/51-legislatura/cpimedic/relatfinal.html and was one of the first in Brazil to make purchases using the price registration system88. Luiza VL, Osorio-de-Castro CGS, Nunes JM. Aquisição de medicamentos no setor público: o binômio qualidade - custo. Cad Saude Publica. 1999;15(4):769-76. DOI:10.1590/S0102-311X1999000400011
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X199900...
,2020. Zaire CEF, Silva RM, Hasenclever L. Aquisições no âmbito do Sistema Único de Saúde no Rio de Janeiro: o caso dos programas de atenção básica. CadDesenvolv Fluminense. 2013 [citado 15 fev2014];(3). Disponível em http://www.e-publicacoes.uerj.br/index.php/cdf/article/view/9341/7242
http://www.e-publicacoes.uerj.br/index.p...
. In 2012, it had a network of 270 health units of varying complexity, 201 of primary health care1010. Ministério da Saúde. Estratégias para o cuidado da pessoa com doença crônica: hipertensão arterial sistêmica. Brasília (DF): Ministério da Saúde; 2013. (Cadernos de atenção básica, vol 37).,c c Ministério da Saúde. DATASUS. Cadastro Nacional dos Estabelecimentos de Saúde - CNES. Brasília (DF): Ministério da Saúde; 2013 [cited 3 Feb 2013]. Available from: http://cnes.datasus.gov.br/Lista_Es_Municipio.asp?VEstado=33&VCodMunicipio=330455&NomeEstado=RIO%20DE%20JANEIRO . Coverage by Estratégia de Saúde da Família (Family Health Strategy) reached around 40.0%, marked by recent expansion arising from the creation of new units (Clínicas da Família – Family Clinics) managed by social organizations (SO) and including pharmacies within their structure77. Harzheim E, Lima KM, Hauser L. Reforma da atenção primária à saúde na cidade do Rio de Janeiro: avaliação dos três anos de Clínicas da Família. Pesquisa avaliativa sobre aspectos de implantação, estrutura, processo e resultados das Clínicas da Família na cidade do Rio de Janeiro. Porto Alegre (RS); 2013. (Técnica inovação na gestão)..

The comparative analysis involved 25 medicines common to public municipal pharmaceutical services and the ATFP Program, according to the lists contained in Ordinances 1555/2013d d Ministério da Saúde. Portaria nº 1.555, de 30 de julho de 2013. Dispõe sobre as normas de financiamento e de execução do Componente Básico da Assistência Farmacêutica no âmbito do Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS). Diario Oficial Uniao. 3 jul 2013. , which funds the Componente Básico da Assistência Farmacêutica (CBAF – Basic Component of Pharmaceutical Services), and 971/2012e e Ministério da Saúde. Portaria nº 971, de 15 de maio de 2012. Dispõe sobre o Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil. Diario Oficial Uniao. 17 maio 2012;seção 1. , related to Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular.

Calculating the cost per pharmaceutical unit (PU) of each medicine included SMS-RJ costs with procurement, logistics (storage, distribution and transport) and local dispensation. Administrative costs involved in procurement or loss and misplacement were not computed.

Procurement costs were obtained from the price registration minutes of SMS-RJ bidding processes, published in the Municipal Official Gazette, following the methodology used by Silva and Caetano1414. Silva RM, Caetano R. Gastos da Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, com medicamentos: uma análise do período 2002-2011. Cad Saude Publica. 2014;30(6):1207-18. DOI:10.1590/0102-311X00124612
https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311X0012461...
. The publication features the unit price for each item.

The source of logistics costs was the SMS-RJ outsourcing contract for this activity. The amount paid to the company was prorated to all medicines, considering the following specific adjustments: (i) monthly consumption of each medicine in PU; (ii) storage and transport space (in m33. Emmerick ICM, Nascimento JM, Pereira MA, Luiza VL, Ross-Degnan D. Farmácia Popular Program: changes in geographic accessibility of medicines during ten years of a medicine subsidy policy in Brazil. J Pharm Policy Pract. 2015;8(1):10. DOI:10.1186/s40545-015-0030-x
https://doi.org/10.1186/s40545-015-0030-...
stored and shipped); (iii) labor force employed in separating medicines, considering the number of items per order; and (iv) insurance, considering the average value in stock. This allowed isolating the contribution of each medicine of the common list between municipal public provision and the ATFP Program, enabling the individualization of a price per PU linked to logistics costs.

Dispensation costs involved expenses related to human resources of basic network pharmaceutical services; purchase of materials, furniture and equipment; and building management and maintenance services. The result of this cost component was subsequently prorated to isolate the costs with the PU of each medicine.

Staff costs were based on a specific SMS-RJ census of September 2012, which identified the number of personnel dedicated to pharmacy, separated by professional category – pharmaceutical and support staff (pharmacy technician, administrative personnel, among others) – and employment relationship (direct municipal administration and SO). Civil servant salaries were determined from the municipal administration salary scale related to the average monthly remuneration values of the corresponding levels, including hazard pay, three-year service bonus and transportation allowance. The salaries of professionals hired by SO were obtained from the SMS-RJ internal system (Painel de Gestão das Parcerias com Organizações Sociais – OS INFO system [Social Organization Partnership Management Panel]), used to monitor and evaluate the management contracts of those organizations. The computation included wages and benefit values and other labor costs such as provision, Government Severance Indemnity Fund for Employees, Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social (National Social Security Institute), Programa de Integração Social (Social Integration Program) and Programa de Formação do Patrimônio do Servidor (Public Servant Savings Program).

Data from OS INFO system were used to estimate costs with equipment/furniture (air conditioning; refrigerators; computers and printers; bookcases; tables and chairs, among others), material (paper, pens, prescription pads, etc.), building management expenses and other administrative costs. The SMS-RJ Family Clinics follow a standard structure and operation model. Amounts and values estimated for a FC were arbitrarily extrapolated to 201 basic units. Furniture and equipment costs were based on the lowest unit purchase price recorded in the 2012 OS INFO system and depreciated according to the Regulatory Instructions of the Brazilian Internal Revenue Servicef f Ministério da Fazenda, Secretaria de Receita Federal. Instrução Normativa SRF nº 162, de 31 de dezembro de 1998. Fixa prazo de vida útil e taxa de depreciação dos bens que relaciona. Brasília (DF): Ministério da Fazenda; 1998 [cited 9 Oct 2014]. Available from: https://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/Legislacao/ins/Ant2001/1998/in16298.htm ,g g Ministério da Fazenda. Secretaria de Receita Federal. Instrução Normativa SRF nº 130, de 10 de novembro de 1999. Altera o Anexo I da Instrução Normativa nº 162, de 31 de dezembro de 1998. Brasília (DF): Ministério da Fazenda; 1998 [cited 2014 Oct 9]. Available from: https://www.receita.fazenda.gov.br/Legislacao/ins/Ant2001/1999/in13099.htm .

An apportionment method was applied to the administrative costs of service contracts and maintenance, which cannot be individually measured by service item. Physical area (m2) was used for energy, water and sewage, cleaning/maintenance, security and building maintenance; quantity of equipment for air conditioning and refrigeration; and number of network access points in pharmacies and number of logins to access Internet service providers and electronic medical record systems, respectively.

Dispensation costs per PU were estimated according to the formula below. The percentage share of each product in the common list was calculated from the total expenditure of SMS-RJ with the procurement of basic medicines in 2012. This percentage share was applied to the total dispensation cost and weighted by the annual consumption of each medicine, obtained from the municipal Medicine Distribution Center.

Where

Cdisp Med A (PU) = cost of medicine A in dispensation stage

TCdisp = Total dispensation costs

Annual consMed A = Annual consumption of medicine A in 2012

Estimate of the final cost per PU to each medicine of the SMS-RJ corresponded to the sum of the cost components of procurement, logistics and dispensation for each one of the 25 medicines.

The RP of medicines in the common list paid by ATFP was obtained from Ordinance 971, in force in 2012e e Ministério da Saúde. Portaria nº 971, de 15 de maio de 2012. Dispõe sobre o Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil. Diario Oficial Uniao. 17 maio 2012;seção 1. .

Comparisons between the RP and the estimated cost per PU of SMS-RJ were based on the percentage variation between both of them. Three situations were considered: full RP, disregarding copayment percentages; RP minus 10.0% copayment by users; and maximum RP paid by MH minus taxes, that is, minus 4.27% taxes on the gross revenue of private pharmacies in 2011h h Carraro WBWH, Mengue SS. Mensuração dos custos totais do fornecimento de medicamentos pela rede básica no Brasil. In: 13º Congresso Internacional de Custos; 18-19 abr 2013 [cited 2014 Jan 10]; Porto, Portugal. Available from: http://www.otoc.pt/news/PENCUSTOS/pdf/076.pdf .

Based on the annual consumption of SMS-RJ, simulations were performed on the differences between SMS costs with each medication of the common list and those potentially incurred based on the RP of ATFP.

Excel© software was used to estimate costs and comparisons.

The study was approved by the Ethics Committees of the Institute of Social Medicine – Rio de Janeiro State University (Opinion 170,617/2012) and of SMS-RJ (Opinion 350A/2012).

RESULTS

SMS-RJ spent R$28,526,526.57 on medications of the common list in 2012, 58.7% of which with the direct procurement of products (Table 1). The average total cost per PU was R$ 1.6386, ranging from R$0.0173 to R$12.3647. Five medicines accounted for 51.4% of expenditure: metformin (850 mg); NPH human insulin; enalapril; losartan; beclomethasone (250 mcg).

Table 1
Estimated costs with procurement, logistics and dispensation of Municipal Health Department per pharmaceutical unit of medicines in the common list of the ATFP Program, total and by cost component (in R$). Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Southeastern Brazil, 2012.

There was significant variation in the percentage share of cost components, especially for some specific products (Figure). For most medicines, procurement costs were the highest, accounting for more than 70.0% of costs in the following products: norethindrone; estradiol + norethisterone; NPH and regular human insulin; beclomethasone (250 mcg); budesonide and benserazide + levodopa.

Figure
Contribution of cost components (in R$) to the total SMS-RJ price per pharmaceutical unit of the common list medicines of the ATFP Program. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Southeastern Brazil, 2012.

Logistics costs predominated in three products: ethinylestradiol + levonorgestrel (72.4%); propranolol (54.8%), and glibenclamide (52.1%). Ipratropium spray and carbidopa + levodopa showed proportionally higher dispensation costs than the others.

Comparing the costs of SMS-RJ and the RP of ATFP Program, municipal costs were generally lower, regardless of the RP considered (Table 2). The difference between full RP and cost per PU in SMS-RJ was 279.8% higher. With the 10% copayment discount, variations were slightly lower on average: 270.7%. In the most favorable comparison with ATFP (minus copayment and taxes), the percentage difference was 3.5 times lower than the federal program, on average.

Table 2
Comparison between the costs of Municipal Health Department and the reference price per pharmaceutical unit of medicines in the common list of the ATFP Program. Rio de Janeiro, Southeastern Brazil, 2012.

Captopril and enalapril showed percentage differences above 1,000%, with a 14 times lower cost in the municipal context, regardless of the comparison scenario with ATFP. Five other medicines also stood out favorably in the municipal dispensation, with costs at least five times lower than ATFP, even after discounting copayment and taxes: alendronate sodium, losartan, glibenclamide, atenolol and ipratropium solution (Table 2).

Simulations of potential costs incurred by SMS-RJ if its medicine consumption pattern were paid according to the RP of ATFP showed values of R$124,170,777.76, considering the best payment scenario by MH (90,0% of RP minus taxes). SMS-RJ would spend 3.4 times more than estimated with the entire common list if it used the RP of ATFP (Table 3).

Table 3
Total cost (in R$) of Municipal Health Department based on estimated costs per pharmaceutical unit and simulation of expenses considering the reference prices of the ATFP Program, for medicines in the common list. Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Southeastern Brazil, 2012.

DISCUSSION

Comparison between the reference price paid to establishments accredited by the Brazilian Ministry of Health in the ATFP Program and the costs of public supply of common list medications by SMS-RJ, calculated per pharmaceutical unit, in general showed differences in favor of the municipal public service, which were 3.5 times greater, on average. The cost of municipal provision was lower in 20 of the 25 items in common with the ATFP Program. Considering the demand of each drug consumed in 2012 by SMS-RJ, the simulation showed that if the municipality had acquired them for the lowest RP, it would incur over R$95 million in the overall cost for the same 25 products.

The ATFP Program offers medicines fully covered by CBAF for use in primary health care. Nationwide expenditure with ATFP totaled R$1,293,874,112.05 in 2012, of which approximately R$261 million were used exclusively to pay pharmacies established in Rio de Janeiro, RJi i Silva RM. Programa “Aqui tem Farmácia Popular”: expansão entre 2006-2012 e comparação com os custos da assistência farmacêutica na Secretaria Municipal de Saúde do Rio de Janeiro [these]. Rio de Janeiro (RJ):Universidade do Estado do Rio deJaneiro;2014. . This volume of resources reinforces the importance of analyzing such expenditures vis-à-vis those of other agencies, especially municipal ones, which bear the heavier burden in providing pharmaceutical services related to primary care.

For most products, procurement costs were the highest compared to the other components investigated. A common feature of medicines with procurement costs above 70.0% of the total cost per PU was low volume purchases.

The contraceptives levonorgestrel and estradiol + norethisterone are acquired centrally by MH and passed on to the municipality, with low volume purchases by SMS. A similar condition occurs with insulin, which is only purchased by the municipality when the MH supply is disrupted. Beclomethasone and budesonide, indicated for treatment of asthma and rhinitis, have little market competition due to the low number of products and manufacturers in the country and the absence of generics, and were only incorporated into SMS-RJ procurement in 2011. Benserazide + levodopa had a single manufacturer until 2012, which classified it as a unique product, hindering price negotiations.

Low volume purchases and less bargaining power contribute to higher prices and inefficient medicine purchases in SUS1919. Vieira FS, Zucchi P. Financiamento da assistência farmacêutica no sistema único de saúde. Saude Soc. 2013;22(1):73-84. DOI:10.1590/S0104-12902013000100008
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0104-1290201300...
. Higher volume purchases attract greater interest from suppliers, expand competition, and are usually associated with price reductions. They tend to attract manufacturers who offer prices closer to production costs, with reduced cost per unit compared to retailers99. Marin NJ, Luiza VL, Osorio-de-Castro CGS, Machado-dos-Santos S, organizadores. Assistência farmacêutica para gerentes municipais. Rio de Janeiro(RJ): Opas/OMS; 2003.,1111. Osorio-de-Castro CGS, Luiza VL, Castilho SR, Oliveira MA, Jaramilo NM, organizadores. Assistência farmacêutica: gestão e prática para profissionais da saúde. Rio de Janeiro (RJ): Editora Fiocruz; 2014.,1818. Vieira FS, Zucchi P. Aplicações diretas para aquisição de medicamentos no Sistema Único de Saúde. Rev Saude Publica. 2011;45(5):906-13. DOI:10.1590/S0034-89102011005000048
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0034-8910201100...
. Associations or consortia of institutions for joint procurement also indicate that medicine prices are sensitive to economies of scale and negotiating power11. Amaral SMS, Blatt CR. Consórcio intermunicipal para a aquisição de medicamentos: impacto no desabastecimento e no custo. Rev Saude Publica. 2011;45(4):799-801. DOI:10.1590/S0034-89102011005000016
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0034-8910201100...
,55. Ferraes AMB, Cordoni Junior L. Consórcio de medicamentos no Paraná: análise de cobertura e custos. Rev Adm Publica. 2007;41(3):475-86. DOI:10.1590/S0034-76122007000300005
https://doi.org/10.1590/S0034-7612200700...
.

Stocks improve the level of services by deploying resources needed for the production process and encouraging economies of scale in procurement, protecting against price increases and demand uncertainty1717. Vecina NG, Reinhardt-Filho W. Gestão de recursos materiais e de medicamentos. São Paulo (SP): Faculdade de Saúde Pública da Universidade de São Paulo; 1998. (Saúde & Cidadania, 12).. Storage and warehouse operating costs should be added to the costs of medicines in stock, proportional to product specificity (cooling requirements) and physical storage area44. Fenili RR. Gestão de materiais. Brasília (DF): Fundação Escola Nacional de Administração Pública; 2015. (ENAP didáticos, vol 1)..

Such elements account for the more prevalent logistics costs of medicines transferred by MH for local distribution, such as ethinyl estradiol + levonorgestrel and NPH and regular insulin, and therefore tend to occupy a lot of storage space and/or demand significant human resources for frequent monthly transfers.

Ipratropium bromide spray and carbidopa + levodopa showed proportionally higher dispensation costs compared to the others, with no clear justification observed. This is probably due to the low costs of the other components, increasing dispensation proportionately. Low volume purchases, extremely specific use instructions, and relatively low consumption demand support this hypothesis.

The differences identified in the comparisons were more favorable to costs at municipal level: SMS-RJ cost estimates resulted in prices below those of ATFP for 20 medicines. The RP paid by MH to private pharmacies is more than four times the price paid by SMS-RJ, considering procurement, logistics and dispensation costs, in eight products. These differences remain relevant even in the best payment scenario (RP minus taxes and copayment by users, when applicable).

The more advantageous results of SMS persist when using the median rather than the average of the percentage differences. The RP for medicines featured in the ATFP list are established considering the factory price approved by Câmara de Regulação do Mercado de Medicamentos (Medicine Market Regulation Chamber), information on market revenue and retail trade volume of the medicines, and the average discount on the factory price of the respective medicines1515. Silva RM, Caetano R. Programa “Farmácia Popular do Brasil”: caracterização e evolução entre 2004-2012. Cienc Saude Coletiva. 2015;20(10):2943-56. DOI:10.1590/1413-812320152010.17352014
https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232015201...
. The observed differences certainly raise questions about the possible overestimation of the RP of some pharmaceutical inputs, even though they are determined based on the lowest factory prices approved.

The identified differences intensify the debate raised by the 2011 TCU report. Aggregating the other cost components produced important variations. The percentage difference of 2,507.0% between the median of the municipal cost and the RP of ATFP for the medicine captopril in the abovementioned document fell to 1,325.6% in the most favorable scenario for MH. A similar reduction trend occurred with enalapril: from 1,937.0% to 1,325.6%.

Despite the comparative reductions, the RP paid by MH are still 14 times higher than prices paid by SMS. These angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, recommended for treating systemic high blood pressure and congestive heart failure1010. Ministério da Saúde. Estratégias para o cuidado da pessoa com doença crônica: hipertensão arterial sistêmica. Brasília (DF): Ministério da Saúde; 2013. (Cadernos de atenção básica, vol 37)., are widely used in SUS66. Ferreira RA, Barreto SM, Giatti L. Hipertensão arterial referida e utilização de medicamentos de uso contínuo no Brasil: um estudo de base populacional. Cad Saude Publica. 2014;30(4): 815-26. DOI:10.1590/0102-311X00160512
https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311X0016051...
.

A similar investigation carried out by Carraroj j Carraro WBWH. Desenvolvimento econômico do Brasil e o Programa Aqui Tem Farmácia Popular: limitantes e potencialidades [these]. Porto Alegre (RS): Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul; 2014. compared the maximum RP paid for 13 medicines available from ATFP, minus taxes, with their costs per PU estimated for 12 municipal health departments in nine states, including logistics and dispensation costs. The RP of ATFP was, on average, 150.1% higher than the estimated costs of municipal pharmacies, and no medicine price paid by MH was inferior to municipal costs.

Although the percentage differences are systematically favorable to estimated municipal costs per PU in both studies, there was a greater disparity in SMS-RJ (3.5 to 28.6 times lower). City size, volume purchases, epidemiological profile and local health system structure, including pharmaceutical services, may have contributed to these findings.

Simulations based on medicine consumption in SMS-RJ in 2012 and expenditures estimated by the lowest RP of ATFP also showed savings in municipal provision, with the difference in overall costs exceeding R$95 million if prices of the ministry program had been used. Items with a RP lower than the estimated municipal cost have low consumption and, analyzed in an integrated way, have a small impact and do not reverse the municipal advantage. The savings correspond to more than three times the amount of federal transfers (R$31,562,221.00) from CBAF to SMS-RJ.

There are other debates related the concurrence of the two pharmaceutical services provision models: the size and overlapping of lists of medicines available from SUS units and ATFP accredited retail pharmacies, which lead to service duplication; lack of use of public sector purchasing power; concentration of the Brazilian Ministry of Health as the key player in supplying medicines for basic care, which is primarily provided at municipal level1212. Santos-Pinto CDB, Costa NR, Osorio-de-Castro CGS. Quem acessa o Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil? Aspectos do fornecimento público de medicamentos. CiencSaude Coletiva. 2011;16(6):2963-73. DOI:10.1590/S1413-81232011000600034
https://doi.org/10.1590/S1413-8123201100...
,1313. Santos-Pinto CDB. Copagamento como ampliação do acesso a medicamentos: Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil. In: Osorio-de-Castro CGS, Luiza VL, Castilho SR, Oliveira MA, Jaramilo NM, organizadores. Assistência farmacêutica: gestão e prática para profissionais da saúde. Rio de Janeiro (RJ): Editora Fiocruz; 2014. p. 355-362..

The advantages of municipal provision found in this study cannot, however, be generalized to other local arrangements and realities. The estimated costs concern a single location. The city of Rio de Janeiro and SMS-RJ have singularities that are not necessarily nor frequently reproduced in Brazilian areas where approximately 80.0% of Brazilian municipalities have up to 30,000 inhabitants. The size of the population and the health service network favor the volume of purchases and increase the city’s power of negotiation. Coupled with the relatively well-structured management of pharmaceutical services, they can potentially reduce costs and maximize efficiency. Finally, other unobserved factors such as the complex logistics in a continental-size country and the different sales taxation schemes of states and municipalities also have repercussions.

The study was limited to a single year, providing a static picture in time. It may not have picked up some relevant cost elements of the municipal pharmaceutical chain that might have emerged in a longer study period, such as seasonality, prescription profile changes, etc.

Administrative costs directly involved in the procurement process and those from loss and misplacement were not included. The former are difficult to be individualized in the pharmaceutical services management chain, especially because the human resources involved in the administrative process of medicine procurement also engage in other procurement activities. This prevents time estimates or the definition of an apportionment criterion capable of identifying this element. Moreover, in general there is only one bidding process per year. The literature on losses is scarce and national statistics are unavailable. Medicine procurement in SMS-RJ is by electronic trading with price registration, with on-demand delivery based on consumption, enabling smaller stocks and minimizing losses from product expiry. Misplacements are covered by insurance provided in the logistics contract, which was included in the specific component costs. The health units have a technical accountability structure and dispensation rules that allow control and reduce misplacement.

This study reinforces the importance of costs in analyzing SUS policies, in particular those related to pharmaceutical services and the provision of medicines by the government. The pharmaceutical services model of the ATFP Program is based on the logic of medicine consumption as a promoter of access, with no emphasis on matters related to costs compared to large public medicine purchasers, who must consider their financial sustainability. The difference in costs between the public provision of SMS-RJ and ATFP indicates that some of the reference prices could be reduced, when compared to prices paid by SMS, which are systematically more favorable.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    2016

History

  • Received
    7 Aug 2015
  • Accepted
    16 Dec 2015
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