Access to medicines for diabetes treatment in Brazil: evaluation of "health has no price" program

Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2016 May 10;8:35. doi: 10.1186/s13098-016-0150-8. eCollection 2016.


Background: In 2011, private pharmacies associated to the Brazilian Ministry of Health provided patients with two types of insulin (regular human insulin and isophane insulin or NPH) and three oral antidiabetic medications (5 mg glibenclamide and 500 and 850 mg metformin) free of charge. The aim was to evaluate the impact of the "Health Has No Price" Program [Saúde Não Tem Preço (SNTP)] for access to diabetes treatment medicines in Brazil.

Methods: This longitudinal and observational study is based on the number of units of oral hypoglycemic agents, insulin and insulin analogues supplied in 55,000 private pharmacies from February 1, 2010 to January 31, 2012. The number of tablets (oral hypoglycemic agents) and international units (insulins and insulin analogues) supplied in the first 12 months of the SNTP Program were compared with the number of tablets and international units supplied in the 12 months prior to its implementation.

Results: The insulins in the SNTP program had the highest percentage change in the number of international units supplied; regular human insulin increased by 97.8 % and isophane insulin (NPH) by 78.0 %. Among the oral hypoglycemic agents, 5 mg glibenclamide increased by 65.9 %, and 500 and 850 mg metformin increased by 46.8 and 39.9 %, respectively, in the number of tablets dispensed in the first year of the SNTP Program. Among the hypoglycemic agents not available in SNTP, 4 mg glimepiride had the highest percentage increase in units supplied (19.2 %) in the same period. Among the insulin analogues, which were not available in the SNTP Program, insulin glulisine showed the greatest increase in units dispensed (34.2 %).

Conclusions: The SNTP Program contributed to increased access to medicines for the treatment of diabetes in Brazil.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Health policy; Health services accessibility; Health systems; Hypoglycemic agents.