New Panama Drug Law – Key Updates & Impact on Medication

On February 1, 2024, Panama witnessed a landmark advancement in healthcare reform with the enactment of the new Medication Law, sanctioned by President Lurentino Cortizo. Published in the Official Gazette as Law 419, this legislation marks a pivotal shift in the regulatory framework governing medicines, medical devices, and the procurement processes for these items. Aimed at improving the pharmaceutical sector’s accessibility, affordability, and efficiency, Law 419 is poised to significantly impact public health policy and administration in Panama.

Key Aspects of the New Drug and Medication Law

Law 419 introduces comprehensive reforms across several critical areas of pharmaceutical regulation and public health procurement, outlined as follows:

Regulation of Medicines and Products

The law’s foremost objective is to secure a steady availability and supply of essential medicines and health-related products throughout the nation. This measure is expected to mitigate shortages and ensure that vital health commodities are accessible to all segments of the population.

Inclusion of Small Pharmaceutical Establishments

A significant provision within the law is the encouragement of small pharmaceutical establishments to partake in public health tenders. This initiative aims to diversify the market, stimulate competition, and provide equal opportunities for smaller entities in the pharmaceutical industry.

Introduction of Sinprem

The establishment of the National Drug Pricing System (Sinprem) is a cornerstone of Law 419. Sinprem’s role is to facilitate the acquisition of medications at reduced prices for public facilities and solidarity pharmacies, thereby making healthcare more affordable for the Panamanian populace.

Enhanced Regulatory Measures

The creation of a drug observatory is mandated to oversee the regulation of the pharmaceutical market. This body will play a crucial role in monitoring drug prices, quality, and availability, ensuring that the sector operates transparently and efficiently.


Ensuring National Availability and Supply

Centralized Regulation

At the heart of Law 419 is the commitment to guarantee the continuous availability of medicines and medical products. By centralizing the regulation of these items, the government aims to prevent shortages and ensure that essential health commodities are accessible to everyone, regardless of their geographic location or economic status.

Strengthening Supply Chains

The law also focuses on strengthening the supply chains for pharmaceuticals, ensuring that logistics and distribution networks are robust and efficient. This is critical for maintaining a steady flow of medicines to remote and underserved areas, thereby enhancing the overall health infrastructure.


Promoting Small Pharmaceutical Participation

Leveling the Playing Field

By encouraging small pharmaceutical establishments to participate in public tenders, Law 419 aims to level the playing field and foster a more inclusive market. This measure not only supports local businesses but also promotes diversity and competition within the pharmaceutical sector.

Enhancing Market Dynamics

The inclusion of smaller entities is expected to enhance market dynamics by introducing more players into the procurement process. This diversification can lead to better pricing, improved quality, and increased innovation as companies compete for government contracts.

Prescriptions in Panama

The National Drug Pricing System (Sinprem)

Reducing Medicine Prices

Sinprem represents a groundbreaking approach to managing drug prices in Panama. By allowing solidarity pharmacies to purchase medicines at state-negotiated rates, the system aims to significantly reduce the cost of healthcare for the Panamanian public and make the healthcare system even more attractive for expats and everyone alike.

Impact on Public Health

The expected reduction in medicine prices, estimated at 20% to 30%, holds the promise of making healthcare more affordable and accessible. This is particularly beneficial for low-income families and individuals who may struggle to afford essential medications.


Regulatory Measures and Market Oversight

Establishing a Drug Observatory

The establishment of a drug observatory under Law 419 is a critical step towards ensuring fair and transparent market practices. This body will be tasked with monitoring drug prices, quality, and availability, providing oversight and regulation to prevent abuses and ensure compliance with national standards.

Pharmacovigilance and Quality Control

In addition to market regulation, the law emphasizes the importance of pharmacovigilance and quality control. By setting criteria for international purchasing, supply guarantees, and the selection of analysis laboratories, Law 419 aims to uphold the highest standards of medicine quality and safety.



The enactment of Law 419 represents a significant milestone in Panama’s healthcare landscape, offering a comprehensive framework to address the challenges of medicine availability, affordability, and regulation. With its focus on inclusivity, affordability, and quality control, the law is poised to make a lasting impact on the health and well-being of the Panamanian population. As the country moves forward with the implementation of these reforms, the promise of a more accessible and equitable healthcare system becomes ever more tangible.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: How will Sinprem affect the general public? A: Sinprem is designed to lower the cost of medications by 20% to 30%, making medicines more affordable and accessible to the Panamanian public.

Q: What opportunities does Law 419 offer to small pharmaceutical establishments? A: Law 419 allows small pharmaceutical establishments to compete in public health tenders, providing them with an equal footing in the market and the opportunity to contribute to the national healthcare system. This initiative aims to foster diversity, stimulate competition, and enhance innovation in the pharmaceutical sector.

Q: How does the drug observatory function within the new law? A: The drug observatory established by Law 419 serves as a regulatory body tasked with monitoring and overseeing the pharmaceutical market. Its functions include tracking drug prices, quality, and availability, ensuring compliance with national standards, and preventing market abuses. This oversight mechanism is crucial for maintaining transparency, fairness, and efficiency in the distribution and sale of medicines.

Q: What impact does Law 419 have on the procurement processes? A: Law 419 introduces streamlined procurement processes designed to expedite the acquisition of medicines and medical equipment. This includes prioritizing the streamlining of endorsements by the Comptroller General of the Republic and implementing faster methodologies to ensure timely access to essential health products. The law also establishes clear penalties for contractors who fail to comply with their obligations, aiming to ensure accountability and reliability in public health services procurement.

Q: How are penalties determined under the new law? A: The legislation specifies economic sanctions ranging from 5% to 15% of the total purchase amount for contractors who fail to fulfill their contractual obligations. Additionally, contractors may face disqualification from participating in public tenders for one year, serving as a deterrent against non-compliance and ensuring that only responsible and reliable entities engage in the supply of medicines and medical devices.


With its comprehensive scope and forward-looking provisions, Law 419 heralds a new era in healthcare and pharmaceutical regulation in Panama. By addressing key issues such as medicine availability, cost, and quality control, the law stands as a testament to Panama’s commitment to improving public health outcomes and ensuring equitable access to healthcare services. As the new measures and systems come into effect, the anticipated benefits for the Panamanian populace include not only reduced healthcare expenses but also enhanced quality and safety of medicines. The collaborative efforts of government bodies, healthcare providers, and the pharmaceutical industry under the guidance of Law 419 will be instrumental in realizing the vision of a more accessible, affordable, and high-quality healthcare system in Panama.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Continued

Q: Will the new law affect the availability of international medicines in Panama? A: By establishing criteria for international purchasing and encouraging competition, Law 419 is expected to maintain or even improve the availability of international medicines in Panama. The law’s focus on supply guarantees and quality control measures ensures that patients in Panama will have access to a wide range of high-quality medicines, including those from international markets.

Q: What measures are being taken to ensure the quality of medicines under the new law? A: Law 419 emphasizes the regulation of pharmacovigilance and the quality of medicines through the establishment of quality control measures, selection criteria for new analysis laboratories, and international purchasing criteria. These measures are designed to ensure that all medicines available in Panama meet strict safety and efficacy standards, protecting the health and well-being of the Panamanian population.

By addressing the complex challenges of the pharmaceutical sector with comprehensive and thoughtful legislation, Panama sets a precedent for healthcare reform that other nations might look to as a model for improving access to and the quality of medicines.

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