May 132013

The scene repeats itself these days in Venezuelan pharmacies: long faces of the customers do not find the drug seeking and employees who must deal with the complaints of many sick people who see how cannot follow your treatment because the drug they need is not available.The situation reflects the growing difficulties in the country to achieve a wide range of drugs, product of the obstacles increasingly older to import them in the midst of change control that governed Venezuela for 10 years.Among those affected is Héctor Mendoza, showing resigned shortly after entering the fifth pharmacy visits in a week in search of a drug he needs to treat sequelae of pulmonary thrombosis.

"It is the bread of every day. It is horrible to get any remedy", complains in dialogue with Efe this that accompanied by his wife 72-year-old retiree looking for Prodaxa medication at a pharmacy in the East of Caracas.

"Long ago I take it and it is now more difficult than before to get it", says.The problem of Mendoza extends to many Venezuelans, who sometimes have to go through several pharmacies to obtain the wanted medication.Even if the situation is not new, it has worsened since the beginning of year by the difficulties of the laboratories to gain access to the foreign currency needed to pay its international suppliers, after the Government eliminated an alternative system where companies could get $, summarized the research of the Spanish News Agency Efe.

Eye drops, pills to sleep and treat hypertension and even cocktails antiretrovirals against HIV are some of the medicines that are missing from pharmacies and clinics.The pharmaceutical industry attributed the shortage to a law that keeps frozen for 10 years the prices of 30% of the medicines available in the country and the delay of the Government in delivering the sector the necessary currencies for imports."The first problem has to do with the settlement of foreign exchange, we estimate that the response time to our requests is 180 days average,"said EfE the Executive Vice President of the Chamber of the pharmaceutical industry, Angel Marquez."There is another element, that has to do with prices.

We have a regulation since 2003 on a basket of slightly more than 1,400 pharmaceuticals. The prices of these 1,400 products not reviewed since that date", he added.The Government is blaming the situation on "unscrupulous employers" which, in his view, speculate on the price of drugs and he has responded with attempts to encourage domestic pharmaceutical production in the heat of a series of agreements signed with several countries, among them Cuba.ademas, has assembled a network of pharmacies Farmapatria which sells medicines at prices below the market in neighborhoods of the country.EfE contacted the Ministry of health, but it was not possible to collect the official position of the Government on the issue.The pharmaceutical industry estimates that 40 percent of the portfolio of medicines in the country is its distribution. "There are occasional failures, which in some cases are becoming systematic. In each therapeutic use there is always a medicine that is missing", said Marquez.los problems are felt also in antiretroviral drugs to treat the AIDS virus, told Efe the President of the Venezuelan organization StopVIH, Jhonatan Rodríguez.

"We have a balance that so far this year have been scarce seven anti-retroviral drugs," he said. "There a month without missing medications to treat HIV. The situation is very delicate.

The shortages has been intermittently, but intermittency has been exacerbated,"he said.Facing these allegations, the Minister of health, Isabel Iturria, told state television that Venezuela is one of the few countries in the world which guarantees free treatment and care to people with HIV and criticized the high cost of the patents on medicines to treat disease.Difficulties to get drugs add to problems of Venezuelans to also find some basic foods in supermarkets of the country, where the Government maintains controls both the price for access to foreign exchange for imports.The delay in the delivery of foreign currency is felt with special force in the laboratories, which must overcome a series of obstacles to get dollars due to a change control that regulates the amount of currency that companies can access the official price since its implementation in 2003.

"The situation is more complex," said Marquez, who said that in some cases suppliers have threatened to laboratories to take legal action for not making payments on time.These difficulties have exacerbated the ingenuity of the Venezuelans, who have turned to social networks Facebook and Twitter to try to get drugs. Others are organized and ask for help to neighbors or friends.In this group is Carmen Hernández, a 51-year-old housewife who took advantage of a visit to Caracas to find a pill against hypertension who commissioned him to a neighbor.

"It is already desperate. He went twice to the doctor so give him free samples, but already no more you", features Hernandez. A few meters, apprentice of Pharmacy Miriam García suggests you let your phone so they called when they receive medication.

"There is a great shortage, people complain, but unfortunately we can't do very much," lamented Garcia.

Obtain medication: an Odyssey for many Venezuelans - health and beauty - intelligent environment