Transparency is one of It’s not Healthy’s goals. Since its launch three years ago, the campaign has been claiming that citizens should know how much is being paid for publicly-financed drugs that have an enormous impact on the health system’s budget, as well as what criteria is used to fix the price of those drugs.
In February 2018, It’s not Healthy sent more than a dozen requests to the Transparency Portal requesting information on the Interministerial Commission on Drug Pricing, the body in charge of determining the maximum price a drug covered by the National Health System may have before autonomous negotiations proceed. These issues are related to the internal functioning of the committee, requests for information on matters such as meeting schedules, the prices of medicines financed in 2017 and with the criteria governing the pricing of these drugs—a question that has not been answered.
Both of requests—for the publication of drug prices financed in 2017 and meeting dates—were rejected by the Ministry of Health, which in its reply referred the organizations that make up the campaign to generic and incomplete information on their website, which did not address the requests.
That is why, in April, It’s not Healthy filed a complaint to the Council for Transparency and Good Governance, an independent body responsible for ensuring the public activity transparency. In its resolution, the Council sided with the campaign, arguing that “accountability for the public decisions that form the foundation of the Transparency, Access to Public Information and Good Governance Act, can hardly be guaranteed when, in an aspect as important, from a socially and citizen standpoint, as the topic of the current resolution, due public transparency and knowledge is not ensured” and urges the Ministry of Health to share the information.
These resolutions been agreed upon by the current Government, which has sent the campaign the official prices of the medicines approved in 2017 and the Interministerial Price Commission meeting timetable.
It’s not Healthy applauds this progress, but reminds us that it is insufficient. It asks the Government to focus on a truly transparent model that also yields better accounts of the decisions made by the Interministerial Commission, so that the information relevant to drug approval and funding is accessible and clear for citizens on their website and briefing notes.
Likewise, they announced that they will continue to solicit information from the Ministry and will resort to the Council for Transparency when necessary. The decisions on drug policies have to be made public and the next Interstate Health Board is an opportunity to review, along with the autonomous communities, who pays the pharmaceutical bill.