Chilean pharmaceutical policy

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The Chilean Pharmaceutical Policy was an attempt in the 1960s and 1970s to introduce a rational national pharmaceuticals policy. Chile was perhaps the first country in the world to introduce the concept of a limited number of essential drugs.

In 1965 the government of President Eduardo Frei took measures to rationalise drug supply and use and in 1967, a national formulary with a limited list of drugs came into being. In 1970, Salvador Allende was elected to power and rationalisation of the pharmaceutical supply system continued.

The next step was to organise centralised bulk procurement. The first international tender for raw materials was called in 1971. However, the pharmaceutical industry struck back: in the three months following the call for tender, widely used drugs, including analgesics and antibiotics, disappeared from the market. The manufacturers had cut their production. They agreed to replenish the market within one week only if the international tenders were called off.

In 1972, the government was forced to succumb and called off the tenders. In 1973, the government of Allende was toppled and the first essential drug programme hitherto known was dead.

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