Chile From Within

Chilean pharmaceutical companies busted for price-fixing

Posted in Chile culture, Corruption, mierda, US by tomasdinges on December 12, 2008
Chilean pharmaceutical companies SalcoBrand, Ahumada and Cruz Verde, which account for 92% of pharmacy sales in Chile, have been charged with collusion to fix prices of at least 222 pharmaceutical products, including medicines for diabetes, epilepsy and anti-conceptives.
The investigation by the Tribunal de Defensa de Libre Comercio was described in a 51-page document found here. Follow the story at El Mostrador. Soon, you will be able to follow the story at CNN Chile, which i think will change the Chilean mediascape.
Anyone who has spent time in Chile will understand the importance of this to Chileans. First of all, Chileans love their pills. Common cold, take a pill. Depressed, take a harmonyl. Pills cure what ails Chileans, without a doubt, part of a synthetic culture that surely took hold once the Chileans abandoned the British ideals and went with the Ford Foundation and Milton Friedman, lets say, of America the beautiful. Within the last ten years antibiotics could be purchased without a prescription. Secondly, consumers are bombarded with advertisements for discounts throughout the cityscape.
Now, three companies aimed to guarantee their profits on drugs including prescription drugs, for which, alas, there was no other substitute.
A “Guerra de Precios” waged in 2007  decimated profit margins among the pharmacies. Consumers were highly elastic and responded immediately to discounts or rebates on common drugs. Competition was ugly, according to the Tribunal investigation:
Ahora bien, los efectos de esta guerra se tornaban en extremo preocupantes
para sus tres actores, pues los márgenes seguían reduciéndose e incluso
comenzaban a ser negativos respecto de muchos productos, poniendo en
duda los reales beneficios de esta situación para un eventual vencedor, en
comparación, claro está, con los beneficios de la colaboración.
In the meantime, Salcobrand undergoes a corporate reorganization, newly purchased by Empresas Juan Yarur SAC, and a repositioning of their brand name. They recruit executives from other companies, including Cruz Verde.
Salcobrand then set up a distribution deal with a company owned by Cruz Verde for distribution of generic pharmaceuticals as of October 1 2007. In November the three companies hold a meeting and declare the price war to be over, and make a truce, recognizing that the battle has cut too deep and profits are suffering across the board.
They decide to raise prices again in unison. Why coordinate their price increase? Because any difference in prices would send Chileans running to the cheaper pharmacy.

Para ello, sería necesario alzar los precios significativamente, desde luego,
en los productos que más bajaron durante la guerra. Pero había que
coordinarse muy bien, porque esos productos eran los denominados notorios
y éticos, como se señaló, de modo que si una de las Cadenas de Farmacias
alzaba su precio y no lo hacían al unísono las otras, la demanda se desviaría
hacia éstas.
According to the complaint, the three companies listed the pharmaceuticals they were losing money on and coordinated a schedule of coordinated price increases.
In December 2007, the price increases began on 62 pharmaceuticals, including among them 15 anti-conceptives. I do not know whether this is a reflection of the fact that anti-conceptives were previously very cheap as a result of price competition, or some sort of cynical religious conservative agenda to deny anticonceptives to all but the rich.
One anticonceptive, “Marvelon-20”, a pack of 21, went up on average 94%, in all three chains, on the same day, December 28th, 2007
And with that the chains raised prices on groups of pharmaceutical products together in a systematic stages, 72 in January, 31 in February, and 40 in March.
The groups of products with the greatest frequency of increases:
A mayor abundamiento, las categorías de medicamentos más afectadas por
el acuerdo, en términos de número de productos, fueron: “G3. Hormonas
sexuales y productos con efectos deseados similares, solo acción sistémica6”
(25 productos), “N3. Antiepilépticos” (20 productos), “N6. Psicoanalépticos
excluyendo preparados antiobesidad” (18 productos), “N5. Psicolépticos” (16
productos) y “C9. Agentes activos en el sistema en angiotensinas y renina
(15 productos)”.
Diabetes and antianemic drugs were those which increased most drastically in price, on average, according to the complaint, rising by 100% and 88%.
The costs of these actions? Fines of $12 million dollars on each company.
Chances that the pharmaceuticals will wrangle a better deal? We shall wait and see.
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A Dogs Life, Aperrando, Beat, Hero Dog

Posted in chile, Chile culture, mierda, Santiago, Uncategorized by tomasdinges on December 10, 2008

Heroic dog tries to save his buddy who has been hit by a fast-moving car in the fast-lane of an six-lane highway. The incident occurred March 23rd 2008, but the video was recently released, according to highway officials. A wave of attention around the world has been attracted by this most “human” of reactions.

Welcome to a dogs life in Chile, the Beat life.

There are thousands of them in Santiago and throughout the country.

Roaming in packs through the city, they have a history of attacking young children and old ladies. They are also sweet and loyal, but it still is not suggested you touch them. They can be mangy, scabied, scarred and limping, not to mention funny-looking. Survival of the fittest indeed. With no leash to speak of, no caretakers, they adopt the characteristics of a pack of orphaned kids, or a bored gang afterschool.

Remember the movie Kids?

They guard their territory, and have rampant sex with large and small, and get stuck, they scavenge what they can, strike up useful friendships sympathetic people, and will sometimes follow you home.

You can identify the leaders, the bitches, the new arrivals and the lame and weak one’s who despite their physical attributes have garnered the loyalty of the bigger dogs, and thus protection.

One identifies bizarre combinations, dachsunds and terriers, big head, small legs, and occassionally purebreds.

They are to some extent adored and given nicknames and protection, as they permeate Chilean society.

One blogger, Carmen Figueroa Cox, writing for the conservative, and “pure-bred” El Mercurio website, has even suggested that “quiltros” be Chile’s country image to reflect Chile’s actual mestizo state, and debunk the absurd pursuit of purity, and thus exclusivity and exceptionalism in Chilean blood lines.

To Aperrar is a verb meaning “to dog it.” It is the closest thing to Beat, as used in On the Road, exhausted to the point of exaltation.

But how did the quiltros get here.

Well, I’d just say it is partially the irresponsibility of  a country with fucked up views of virility and sex, even dog sex. Or at least this is what one person told me.  Male dogs are not castrated because it is inhumane, said one dog owner in a conversation. These male dogs are also allowed to roam the streets at night, only to come home to scraps.

Pet “owners” take minimal care of them and seem to adopt them willfully, but take little care.

Often times it is a question of money. Spaying and neutering cost much money that is often better spent elsewhere.

The Humane Society would still be something that Chileans would associate with victims of torture under the Pinochet regime, not dogs.

In lieu of social norms and any sort of policy to deal with the issue, there are occasional roundups and mass slaughter of street dogs, or quiltros.

In one case the dogs who had staked a claim to the Plaza de la Constitucion, or the Plaza in front of the Presidential Palace, survived a roundup of three years ago. Why? They had the protection of the Presidential guard, literally.

The dogs often have the sympathy of the people, who give them nicknames, like Jonas and Mero, in this fictional account of the above video.

But for those who don’t have this protection, there is mass slaughter (euthenasia), which most recently occurred at the Sociedad Protectora de Animales where the bodies of 30 cat and dogs were found on site. It is alleged that weekly 50 dog carcasses are removed from the site.

See The Clinic for more:

resulting in this:

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Update, most everyone gets off scot-free

Posted in Chile military, mierda, Pinochet, Santiago by tomasdinges on October 28, 2007

This is old news, but one that I bet went underreported around the world in comparison with the initial news of the Pinochet family and associates enjailment.

Apparently the charges and the arrest were based on considering the members of the family and the inner circle of Pinochet government functionaries.

So, when the appeals judge determines that they aren’t government functionaries, he can’t hold them in prison.

La Nacion Domingo has an article explaining what went on. About two or three people have had charges that stick.

This brings up the mysterious question of why Cerda brought these charges, dedicated so many resources, etc… to making charges that within a couple days would be overturned…and actually quite simply.

Pretty lame Juez Cerda. Especially since when all this went down he was in the United States picking up a Justice award from the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation. Here is the webcast.