Federal procurement of unlicensed medicines in Brazil; findings and implications

Cristiane Roberta dos Santos Teodoro, Rosângela Caetano, Brian Godman*, André Luís Almeida dos Reis, Aurélio de Araújo Maia, Mariana de Carvalho Barbosa Ramos, Claudia Garcia Serpa Osorio-de-Castro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There are safety concerns with using unlicensed medicines across countries including Brazil. Consequently this needs to be evaluated and concerns address if pertinent. Aim: Investigate such purchases by the Brazilian Federal Government from 2004 to 2013. Methods: Procurement data from a public-access databank that contains procurement information of the Brazilian Federal Government. Each procured item was cross-referenced to its active drug approval status in the Brazilian National Register (DOU). Exploratory analysis and trend measures were performed for the variables for mapping and characterizing the purchases of non-market approved drugs. Results: 614 (0.14%) purchases in ten years corresponding to 64 unlicensed medicines–some of which had orphan drug status–and 48 different active substances; with a growing trend in recent years. Medicines in 51% of purchases were procured before obtaining marketing approval–with eventual refusals occurring in 17.8% and cancellation due to lack of efficacy and/or safety concerns in 1.1%. Health litigation accounted for 81.9% of purchases and growing in recent years. Conclusions: Overall a low rate of unlicensed medicine use. However there are concerns given the current regulations in Brazil and the recent increase in the use of unlicensed medicines with increased litigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-613
Number of pages7
JournalExpert Review of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Brazil
  • drug approval
  • federal government
  • procurement
  • unlicensed medicines


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