The wait has them desperate. Doctors and patients believed that they would finally have an updated National Table of Basic Drugs (the current one is five years old), but when it was about to be approved, the list was sent back for review. The commission in charge should make another detailed analysis of the added drugs, considering, in addition to the effectiveness, their price.
“The background is that there is no money and as they have an economic crisis, if they approve the table as it is proposed, they will be de-funded by Health,” said Ernesto Carrasco, president of the Ecuadorian Medical Federation, who convened a press conference yesterday a group of patients to show their concern about the extension.
This table is key for attention in public institutions. Neither the hospitals of the Ministry of Health, the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS) nor the Armed Forces can purchase medicines that are outside of that list, except for specific approvals that involve many procedures and time.
In the new table, it was expected to add 50 drugs with new treatments for all types of illnesses and those that considered themselves to be no longer adequate would be discharged. This list is made based on the needs evidenced by the doctors treating hospitals and is reviewed by the National Commission of Medicines and Supplies (Conamei), which incorporates or not taking into account the scientific evidence.
“Three years it took the commission to make this picture. With the table reviewed ad nauseam, the only thing that corresponded by law was for the Conasa (National Health Council) to meet, know and send it to the Ministry for publication and distribution, “said Carrasco, who recalled that the medical federation which represents has a delegate in the Conamei.
The former Minister of Health, Luis Sarrazín, confirmed the reason for the delay in the approval of this table. “In the Conasa informed that, by decision of the minister, the basic table had to return to the commission so that they are reviewed certain medicines, especially the anti-tumors, because it was considered that, apparently, the costs were very high and threatening against the budget of the Ministry of Health, “the professional told EXPRESO, who is a representative of the Guayaquil Charity Board before the Conasa and a member of the Conamei.
The decision was made at the July 27 meeting and it is not known how long the review may take. “The calculations made by the Ministry to check them have been requested because we do not agree with what they presented, it does not seem adjusted to reality,” Sarrazin said.
Hematologist Washington Ladines, president of the College of Physicians of Guayas, recalled that the basic picture not only benefits those suffering from catastrophic diseases, but all patients. Many go to the Ombudsman in search of intermediation to get that medicine. “The processes sometimes take six months. Drug resistance is then created and the patient relapses. The disease can go to an acute phase and a terminal, “he said.
Frank Alarcón, 55, father of two daughters, has chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer. Four times he has run out of his medication, since the IESS must ask for special authorizations for his purchase and this process is often delayed. Together with him, another 50 patients with the same disease expect the condition to include Nilotinib (Tasigna). It is not easy to self-finance the treatment. The medication for a month costs $ 5,600. In two of those lags, his co-workers put the money together to help him.
EXPRESO consulted the Ministry of Health on the subject, but indicated that the concerns were referred to the technical area. Until press time, there was no response. According to the rendering of accounts, in 2017 the Ministry invested $ 365.6 million in medicines and supplies nationwide. (I)