The president of the Federacion Farmaceutica Venezolana [Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation], Freddy Ceballos, responded to yesterday’s announcement that the government would create a registry to help administer medicine in the country. Today, Ceballos argued that the new system would do little to improve the medicine scarcity in the country:
You can’t pretend like there’s medicine in the country when you can’t [access foreign currency] or pay your debts. The debt owed by the pharmaceutical sector with the businesses the provide us with medicine is over $4 billion.
Minister of Health Henry Ventura announced the new system (called SIAMED) yesterday. Ventura said that the system would allow individuals to be matched up with the medicine they need.
To Ceballos, the system fails to address the cause of the scarcity, which is the fact that the medical industry in Venezuela does not have access to the foreign currency it needs to import medicine. Ceballos continued:
We won’t stand in the way of any plan put in motion by the Ministry of Health, specially if it’s done with the benefit of the patient in mind. However, the root of the problem of what we’re living through is the acquisition of foreign currency through CENCOEX.
Ceballos said that so far this year, the Venezuelan pharmaceutical industry has only received 5% of the amount it owes to its international suppliers. He also complained that the Ministry of Health has yet to contact the pharmaceutical industry about the proposed changes, and called on the government to be “more explicit” with their plans.
Central Bank Swaps Gold For $1 Billion
The Banco Central de Venezuela finalized a gold swap with Citibank worth $1 billion today. Reuters reports that the deal probably saw the central bank provide 1.4 million troy ounces of gold for cash from the U.S. institution. Neither party has confirmed the move yet.
In economics, a gold swap allows for one entity (the Banco Central de Venezuela) to temporarily exchange gold for cash, with the intention of re-purchasing the gold from another entity (Citibank) at a later date.
Ventura: Venezuelans Should Consume Less Medicine
Minister of Health Henry Ventura proposed a solution to the medical scarcity in the country: consume less medicine. Ventura said:
Venezuela is a country with a high index of medicine consumption, [and] it’s something we want to change.
Ventura did not explain how SIAMED – or any other initiative announced so far – would reduce the rate at which Venezuelans consume medicine.
Venezuelan Crude Rises to $52.61
The price for a barrel of Venezuelan crude oil rose to $52.61 per barrel, up from the $50.34 close last week.