The healthcare crisis in Venezuela is a tangible element of a country where two completely opposite poles coexist. As indicated by The New York Times in its edition of March 21, 2023, while televisions are being sold for $115,000, healthcare workers receive a monthly salary of $20 to survive.1
Although the hyperinflation situation that occurred since 2017 has been overcome, Venezuela still ranks as the most inflationary economy in the world, with an estimated inflation rate of 125% by the end of this year, 2022. According to a survey conducted by the Andrés Bello Catholic University:2
• About 1 in 5 people reported some health problems or illnesses.
• Consultations increased to 63%.
• The gender gap in seeking medical attention has decreased (61% vs. 64%).
• 1 in 3 elderly adults has experienced some health problem, and 63% of them sought medical attention.
• The probability of seeking medical attention is 70% in the richest quintile and 58% in the poorest quintile.
• 9 out of 10 people seek the attention of a doctor, although 7% now turn to a pharmacist.
• 9 out of 10 people who sought medical attention were prescribed medication, and in 65% of cases, they had to purchase them.
Although the current economic situation is unfavorable, people seek quality healthcare.
In terms of healthcare, the population focuses more on corrective measures rather than preventive ones. That’s why 9 out of 10 people were prescribed medication.
The pharmaceutical market in Venezuela grew by 12.8% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2021, according to data provided by the Pharmaceutical Industry Chamber (Cifar) to Efe.3 During the first three months of 2022, 37.67 million medications were distributed in the market, which is 4.28 million more than the same period the previous year when 33.39 million medicines were distributed in pharmacies.
Currently, Venezuela has approximately 330 laboratories and pharmaceutical companies responsible for the distribution and sale of medications in the country.3
Role of the Medical Science Liaison and their presence among the medical community in the country.
A survey was conducted in four states of the country, which are listed below:
• Capital District.
• Aragua State.
• Sucre State.
Ten Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) were selected from the following specialties for evaluation:
• Internal Medicine.
The survey assessed the knowledge of the role of the Medical Science Liaison and the perception of the importance of clinical knowledge for therapeutic patient management.
Among the most striking results, 100% of the respondents believe that scientific research is important for professional development. Regarding medical visits, only 10% received 1 to 2 visits from representatives of the pharmaceutical industry in the last year. Only 1 KOL received an invitation to promote scientific research on medication.
The rest expressed a complete interest in the presentation of the scientific foundations of the medications held by the pharmaceutical company.
Only 1 KOL knows or is familiar with the role of the MSL, but none have received direct information from an MSL. 70% emphasize the importance of product samples or medications, summaries of clinical studies supporting the use of the medication, and explanations from a specialist about the product.
The KOLs’ perception regarding areas of improvement proposed for medical representatives includes:
• Pharmaceutical representatives should innovate in their presentations.
• The industry should provide a higher level of information.
• Reactivate visits and talks by medical representatives in public facilities.
• Restore the figure of the medical representative in Venezuela.
• Increase the frequency of visits by representatives.
In summary, Venezuela, which is still a country in crisis, continues to require the support of the pharmaceutical industry. 9 out of 10 people require medications prescribed by healthcare providers, whether in a public or private institution. Although the pharmaceutical industry exists and has a range of products available, the effective dissemination of scientific information about their products has been neglected. The role of the Medical Science Liaison is almost unknown. Healthcare professionals are willing and available to receive information and scientific updates as they recognize it as a crucial part of their daily practice.
- Herrera Isayen (2023) Ferrari, Prada y hambre: la visión socialista de Venezuela se tambalea. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/es/2023/03/21/espanol/venezuela-ricos-pobres.html
- ENCOVI (2022) Condiciones de vida de los venezolanos. Universidad Católica Andrés Bello. https://assets.website-files.com/5d14c6a5c4ad42a4e794d0f7/636d0009b0c59ebfd2f24acd_Presentacion%20ENCOVI%202022%20completa.pdf
- Mercado farmacéutico de Venezuela subió 12 % el primer trimestre, dice gremio (2022) https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/venezuela-farmac%C3%A9uticas_mercado-farmac%C3%A9utico-de-venezuela-subi%C3%B3-12—el-primer-trimestre–dice-gremio/47612100
Joselyn Mariell Diaz Revetti
Joselyn Diaz Revetti is a Medical Doctor with expertise in Urology and pharmaceutical knowledge. She graduated as a Surgeon from the University of Carabobo, Aragua, in 2012. She continued her medical training as a Resident in Surgery at the Hospital Militar Cnel. Elbano Paredes Vivas in Maracay, Venezuela. She then pursued a residency in Urology at the Hospital Central de Maracay. She is currently enrolled in a master’s degree in Health Care Administration and is on her path as an aspiring Medical Science Liaison.
Throughout her career, Joselyn has gained experience in various healthcare settings. She served as a Rural Physician. She also worked as a General Physician. Additionally, she held positions as a Resident in Emergency.
Joselyn’s professional journey has taken her to different countries as well. She worked as a Surgical Coordinator for Medical Tourism in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Later, she joined CEDIMAT in Santo Domingo as a Budget Manager. She then became the Coordinator of Dispensaries and Medical Advisor in Santo Domingo. Currently, she works as a Medical Advisor and Project Manager as a freelancer and is the manager of Infection prevention and control (IPC) in CEMDOE in Santo Domingo.