Last Wednesday morning (30), the congressman Chico D’Angelo (PT-RJ) took the advantage of the presence of the Minister of Health, Ricardo Barros, at a public hearing to discuss the situation of Brazilian hospitals, at the Committee on Social Security and Family (CSSF) at the House of Representatives, to question him about the financial management practices of the Ministry.

According to the deputy, the Ministry of Health was denounced by the Attorney General of Brazil due to the purchase of hepatitis C medicines – alfapoetina and ribavirin – at a price 3000% higher than the price charged by Fiocruz, a foundation linked to the Ministry of Health that also manufactured those drugs.

“I would like to ask the Minister how those purchase are justified, how do you explain the fact that the Ministry of Health neglects Fiocruz’s national medicine production, which plays na important role at the Public Health System?, asked the representative.

The Minister reported that alfapoetina was purchased from Cuba for 12 years. The manufacturer should transfer the technology to Brazil but it never happened, therefore, the contract was suspended. According to Barros, the alfapoetina drug have been purchased at a price saving R$ 120 millions, at a 33% discount. Still according to the Minister, the Fiocruz Foundation offers the medicine at the same price the laboratory does.

Concerning ribavirina, the Minister affirmed that the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its protocol, suspending the drug. Fiocruz halted production and, six months later,  WHO reinstated the drug. The Ministry of Health notified Fiocruz, which asked a four- months deadline to  restart production, promising the medicine for August.
State Policy Advocacy
The representative Carlão Pignatari (PSDB)’s professional advice, who is the chairman of the State of São Paulo Parliamentary Front Against Viral Hepatitis met the members of the Committee “For a Social Demand for the Treatment of the Hepatitis C in the State of São Paulo”, developed by FOAESP.

The FOAESP agenda covers the requests for the Parliamentary Front to accept the Social Movement collaboration, to presents a bill on behalf of Yellow July – a monthly viral hepatitis awareness campaign – and schedule a meeting with the members of the project to discuss the issue of viral hepatitis in the State of São Paulo. Promptly, the deputy’s adviser promised to give return next week.