Anvisa was foremost technical reference during pandemic, study reveals

According to study, agency altered regulatory agenda to meet demands of COVID-19
08 七月 2022
Anvisa was foremost technical reference during pandemic, study reveals

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the technical rules of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) were cited by other federal government institutions more than those of any other body. This is one of the findings of a study called “Anvisa’s Regulatory Output as a Reference for the Federal Government During the Pandemic,” carried out by Lucas Thevenard, a researcher on the Regulation in Numbers Project at Fundação Getulio Vargas' Rio de Janeiro Law School.

Thevenard looked at data in documents published in the federal government’s official gazette and found that Anvisa was the main technical point of reference for a broad set of public organizations that needed to adapt their activities to the pandemic’s context. The researcher analyzed publications between July 2019 and August 2021. Before the pandemic, the regulatory agency mentioned the most times in federal publications was the National Electricity Regulatory Agency (Aneel).

In all, the study identified 87,001 documents published by Brazil’s 13 federal regulatory agencies in the period, of which 16,779 were Anvisa publications. It also identified 13,960 documents mentioning one of the agencies and published by a different entity (i.e., not by the mentioned agency), of which 2,288 mentioned Anvisa.

“The goal of this study was to measure public organizations’ interactions with Anvisa. We sought to verify whether the pandemic increased Anvisa’s influence on the official acts of other entities. To do this, we measured the number of mentions of Anvisa in official documents published in the federal government’s official gazette,” explains Lucas Thevenard, the researcher responsible for the study.

He stresses that high demand for Anvisa’s rules led the agency to alter its agenda, affecting the holding of public consultations and regulatory impact assessments. In the period in question, Anvisa issued a high number of health rules related to the pandemic.

“The study’s results further underline Anvisa’s importance as an example of a regulatory body. We confirmed that Anvisa is an organization that stands out for the volume of secondary standards it produces, which also reflects the variety of topics that the agency is responsible for regulating. Before the pandemic, the agency was already frequently mentioned in the official acts of other public bodies, but during the pandemic, the number of mentions increased substantially. This indicates that the rules issued by the agency played a fundamental role in guiding the actions of public entities to tackle the public health crisis,” Thevenard says.

The complete study is available here.

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