Medicine prices and availability in the Brazilian Popular Pharmacy Program

Rev Saude Publica. 2010 Aug;44(4):611-9. doi: 10.1590/s0034-89102010005000021. Epub 2010 Jun 25.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Objective: To analyze the performance of the Programa Farmácia Popular do Brasil (FPB - Brazilian Popular Pharmacy Program) in the public and private sectors, in terms of availability and cost of medicines for hypertension and diabetes.

Methods: The methodology developed by the World Health Organization, in partnership with the Health Action International, was used to compare medicines prices and availability. This study was performed in May 2007, in different sectors (public, private and the Program's government-managed [FPB-P] and private-sector-managed [FPB-E] categories), in 30 cities in Brazil. A total of four medicines were analyzed: captopril 25mg and hydrochlorothiazide 25mg for hypertension; and metformin 500mg and glibenclamide 5mg for diabetes.

Results: FPB-E showed greatest medicine availability, while the public sector the lowest. The percentage of availability of similar medicines was higher than that of generic medicines, both in the public sector and in the FPB-P. Comparison of prices among sectors showed a lower purchase price in the FPB-E, followed by the FPB-P. The FPB-E charged prices that were over 90% cheaper than those in the private sector. The number of working days required to obtain treatment for hypertension and diabetes were fewer in the FPB-E.

Conclusions: The lower availability found in the public sector could be one of the reasons for the migration of users from the public sector to the FPB. The high prices in the private sector also contribute for this Program to be an alternative of medicine access in Brazil.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / classification
  • Antihypertensive Agents / economics*
  • Antihypertensive Agents / supply & distribution*
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drugs, Generic / economics
  • Drugs, Generic / supply & distribution
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / classification
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / economics*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / supply & distribution*
  • National Health Programs* / standards
  • National Health Programs* / statistics & numerical data
  • Private Sector / statistics & numerical data
  • Public Sector / statistics & numerical data


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Drugs, Generic
  • Hypoglycemic Agents