Processes for regional integration, albeit geographically restricted, «intend to make more rapid progress than the global process for economic deregulation and liberalization of the international economy». In practice, these operate as development strategies at a sub-regional level, and entail the harmonization of policies in all fields in order to create common areas. It is apparent, however, that globalization has impinged on some aspects of regional integration, limiting the efficiency of regional policy outside the OECD.
In the field of medicines, processes for regional integration can contribute to the reinforcement and application of strict rules for health registration and control, to guarantee safe and flexible trade. There is also an agreement that regional policies should focus on access to medicines and not exclusively on the reinforcement of regional production, which has been the case till now.
The future perspective of regional policies in the field of medicines could cover:
a) The design of strong and flexible mechanisms for oversight and control.
b) The completion of international legislation which harmonizes and guarantees the rational use of medicines, in order that benefits from trade do not conflict with health and imply less control and quality.
c) Agreements aimed at reinforcing education and administrative capacity to encourage rational prescribing.
d) The reinforcement of regional capacity to supply generics.