No more bad medicine in Latvia

A year after implementing a QR code medication verification system, which allows medication to be traced from production to the consumer, no instances of medication fraud have been uncovered in Latvia, according to Latvian Medicines Verification Organisation Board Chair Inese Erdmane on February 18.

The system has currently been implemented in 28 countries, and fake medicine has been uncovered using the system in other countries. Erdmane maintained that the current challenge is forming closer cooperation with other countries.

More than 79 million forms of packaging have been entered into the Latvian system, and more than 21 million have already been deleted. The system generates alarms and alerts system users that the medication must be quarantined and inspected because it's suspicious. The Ministry of Health highlighted one instance last year in the Netherlands where fraudulent oncological medication was uncovered with the help of the system.

As reported last year, the Competition Council found that even when drug manufacturers set lower prices in Latvia than in Lithuania and Estonia, the drugs can cost more for Latvian consumers due to the pricing mechanism. The Council asked the responsible institutions to create a new mechanism that will make medicines more financially accessible.

The Competition Council announced that the consumer end prices will be made up of the production cost, wholesaler markup, pharmacy markup and VAT. The biggest difference in the price structures among the Baltic countries is created by the wholesaler and pharmacy markups and VAT, which is 12% in Latvia, 9% in Estonia and 5% in Lithuania. The markup in Latvia is created when wholesalers apply an increasing markup percentage on the production cost, while pharmacies apply them on top of the wholesale price.

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