Learning from the Experience: The Inter-American Development Bank and Pharmaceuticals

May 2001
The IDB has supported the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean in their efforts to improve their pharmaceutical systems. The objectives of this paper are twofold. First, it intends to present a brief description of the characteristics of the pharmaceutical sector in the region and discuss the rationale for Bank involvement. The second aim is to carry out a systematic review of IDB activities in this sector, analyzing the scale and scope of these activities during the last decade. Section 2 describes the pharmaceutical sector in Latin America and the Caribbean and discusses the characteristics that make medicines different from standard commodities. Section 3 describes Bank activities in the pharmaceutical sector and its evolution through time and by regions. Section 4 provides a detailed analysis of Bank interventions in the various areas of the pharmaceutical sector. Section 5 concludes with a discussion of future challenges for IDB activities in this sector.