Government reduces import tax on medicines at risk of shortages

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Camex (Chamber of Foreign Trade), linked to the Ministry of Economy, announced this Friday (17) the extension of the import tax reduction on inputs related to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The list included drugs with a risk of shortages, such as oxytocin and neostigmine.

“13 new pharmaceutical ingredients/drugs were included, based on recommendations from the Ministry of Health,” Camex said in a note.

In early June, medical entities sent the Ministry of Health an alert about the low stock of five drugs for hospital and pre-hospital use: dipyrone, neostigmine, atropine, amikacin and oxytocin, all injectable. As Folha showed, the associations asked the folder to help regulate the market.

For the “Covid list”, according to the Ministry of Economy, the deadline that would expire on June 30 has been extended until the end of 2022.

“As a result, the rate of a wide list, composed of 645 products, which includes medicines, hospital equipment, personal hygiene items and other supplies used in the fight against Covid-19 will remain zero”, he said.

According to representatives of medical associations, the decision will help to solve part of the problem of low stock of medicines. However, there are still missing drugs that did not appear on the list. Next Monday (20), members of the associations will meet to map other products that are at risk of shortages.

The executive secretary of Conasems (National Council of Municipal Health Departments), Mauro Junqueira, said that municipalities and hospitals continue to have difficulty buying such medicines.

“Several actions are important [para regular o mercado], such as the import of this product and the ban on exports, which the Ministry of Health is discussing for products that are in short supply. Let’s wait and see if it resolves,” he said.

The “Covid list” was prepared with the aim of increasing the supply of medicines intended to combat the pandemic, as well as machines and inputs used for the national manufacture of these products. The objective is to increase its availability, reduce costs for the Brazilian health system and for the citizen.

Medicines such as chloroquine, ivermectin and azithromycin continue to receive tax benefits granted to products to combat coronavirus, although their effectiveness is discarded by the scientific community.

The main drugs that make up the so-called Covid kit remained high in 2021, with sales that represent more than double the amount recorded in the pre-pandemic period.

In January, the Ministry of Health blocked the publication of a guideline prepared by experts that contraindicated the use of the Covid kit in the SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde).

The text would not have the power to prohibit doctors from using the Covid kit, but it would represent a setback for the denialist flags of the Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government, as it would be a Health orientation contrary to the so-called early treatment. In other words, the use of ineffective drugs.

This Friday, Camex also announced a reduction in the import tax on video games and accessories. The cut was anticipated by Bolsonaro on social media on Thursday (16). According to the president, the determination will take effect from July 1.

The rates levied on imports of parts and accessories for consoles and video game machines will rise from 16% to 12%, while the tax on video games with built-in screen, portable or not, and their parts will be zeroed. Today, the rate charged is 16%.

This is the fourth time the government has promoted some kind of tax exemption for video games. In August 2021, it reduced the IPI (Tax on Industrialized Products) on these products. At the time, fees charged on consoles dropped from 30% to 20%.

In second place in polls with less than four months to go before the elections, Bolsonaro has been promoting a series of tax cuts. On May 23, Camex approved a 10% cut in import tax rates on basic items. Beans, meat, pasta, rice and building materials were among the products included in the tariff reduction.

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