What is the ANVISA: Brazil’s Equivalent to the FDA

Regulatory agencies play a vital role around the world in ensuring the safety and efficacy of food, drugs and medical devices. While many are familiar with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, Brazil has its own regulatory agency known as the National Health Regulatory Agency or ANVISA (Agência Nacional de Vigilância Sanitária).

Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency

The Origins of ANVISA

The roots of Brazil’s National Health Regulatory Agency (ANVISA), can be traced back to the late 1990s. At that time, Brazil recognised the need for a specialised regulatory body to oversee the safety, efficacy and quality of healthcare products and services within its borders. Prior to the creation of ANVISA, regulatory responsibilities were scattered among various government agencies, leading to inefficiencies and gaps in oversight.

In December 1998, Brazil passed Law No. 9782, which laid the foundation for the creation of ANVISA. This legislation granted the agency autonomous status and outlined its mandate to comprehensively regulate health-related products and services. The creation of ANVISA marked a significant shift towards a more centralised and specialised approach to health regulation, in line with international standards and best practice.

Over the years, ANVISA’s role has evolved in response to changing public health needs and advances in technology and science. Legislative updates and amendments have further strengthened the agency’s authority and expanded its regulatory scope. Today, ANVISA is a cornerstone of Brazil’s healthcare system, playing a critical role in protecting public health and ensuring the quality and safety of healthcare products consumed by millions of Brazilians.

Through its proactive regulatory framework and commitment to excellence, ANVISA continues to fulfil its mission to promote and protect the health of the Brazilian people.

Scope of Regulation

ANVISA’s regulatory jurisdiction covers a wide range of products and industries, reflecting its commitment to protecting public health and ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of health-related goods and services in Brazil. The Agency’s regulatory oversight includes the following key areas:

Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients:
ANVISA regulates the manufacture, importation and distribution of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) used in the production of medicines. By setting standards for the quality, purity and potency of APIs, ANVISA helps to ensure the safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical products consumed by patients.

ANVISA oversees the safety and quality of cosmetic products sold in Brazil, including skin care products, hair care products, perfumes and make-up. The agency evaluates cosmetic formulations, ingredients and labelling to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and to protect consumers from potential health risks.

ANVISA plays a central role in the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, overseeing the approval, registration and marketing of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. The agency evaluates the efficacy, safety and quality of medicines through comprehensive review processes, ensuring that approved medicines meet rigorous standards before they are made available to patients.

Ensuring the safety and quality of food is a key priority for ANVISA. The agency monitors food production, distribution and labelling to prevent food-borne illness and ensure compliance with food safety standards. ANVISA’s regulatory oversight helps protect consumers from contaminated or adulterated food and promotes confidence in the food supply.

Medical devices:
ANVISA regulates medical devices used in healthcare, ranging from simple instruments to complex equipment. The agency evaluates the safety, performance and effectiveness of medical devices through pre-market evaluations and post-market surveillance activities. By enforcing regulatory requirements, ANVISA helps to minimise the risks associated with the use of medical devices and ensure patient safety.

ANVISA oversees the registration and use of pesticides in Brazil to protect human health and the environment. The agency evaluates pesticide formulations, active ingredients and use guidelines to ensure compliance with safety standards and to minimise risks to farm workers, consumers and ecosystems.

Sanitising products:
ANVISA regulates sanitising products used for disinfection and hygiene, including disinfectants, antiseptics and sanitizers. The agency evaluates product formulations, efficacy claims and labelling to ensure that sanitising products meet safety and performance standards and provide effective protection against harmful micro-organisms.

Tobacco products:
ANVISA regulates the production, marketing and consumption of tobacco products in Brazil in order to reduce the public health burden associated with tobacco use. The agency implements tobacco control measures, including packaging and labelling requirements, advertising restrictions and public education campaigns, to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality.

Functions and Responsibilities

ANVISA’s functions and responsibilities are diverse and include a range of regulatory activities aimed at protecting public health and ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of health-related products and services in Brazil. The Agency’s mandate is carried out through several key functions and responsibilities:

Approval and Registration Processes:
ANVISA is responsible for evaluating and approving the registration of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food, cosmetics and other health-related products before they can be marketed and distributed in Brazil. This involves rigorous evaluation of scientific data, manufacturing processes and quality control measures to ensure compliance with regulatory standards. By reviewing product submissions, ANVISA helps protect consumers from potentially harmful or ineffective products.

Monitoring and inspection:
ANVISA conducts inspections of manufacturing facilities, distribution centres and retail outlets to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and good manufacturing practices. These inspections help to identify and correct deficiencies in product quality, hygiene and safety protocols. By monitoring the entire supply chain, ANVISA aims to minimise risks and prevent unsafe or substandard products from entering the market.

Surveillance and post-market monitoring:
Once products have been authorised and placed on the market, ANVISA continues to monitor their safety and efficacy through post-marketing surveillance activities. This involves collecting and analysing data on adverse events, product complaints and quality issues reported by healthcare professionals, consumers and manufacturers. By promptly investigating and addressing safety concerns, ANVISA helps to mitigate risks and protect public health.

Advertising and promotion regulation:
ANVISA regulates the advertising and promotion of health-related products and services to ensure that they are truthful, accurate and not misleading. The agency establishes guidelines and restrictions on marketing practices to prevent the dissemination of false or exaggerated claims that could deceive consumers or undermine public health. By enforcing advertising regulations, ANVISA promotes transparency and helps consumers make informed choices about their healthcare options.

Cooperation and partnerships:
ANVISA works with other government agencies, industry stakeholders, healthcare professionals and international organisations to improve regulatory effectiveness and promote public health initiatives. This includes sharing information, exchanging best practices and participating in joint projects and initiatives to address common challenges and advance regulatory science. By fostering collaboration and partnerships, ANVISA strengthens its ability to fulfil its regulatory mandate and protect the health and well-being of Brazilians.

ANVISA’s Impact on Public Health

As Brazil’s primary regulatory agency for health-related products and services, ANVISA has a significant impact on public health outcomes throughout the country. Through its regulatory oversight and enforcement activities, ANVISA plays a key role in protecting the health and well-being of the Brazilian population. The agency’s impact on public health can be observed in several key areas:

Ensuring product safety and efficacy:
ANVISA’s rigorous evaluation and approval processes for pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food, cosmetics and sanitary products are fundamental to ensuring the safety and efficacy of these products. By setting strict standards and conducting thorough evaluations, ANVISA helps to reduce the risks associated with substandard or counterfeit products, thereby reducing the incidence of adverse reactions, illnesses and injuries among consumers.

Preventing public health risks:
ANVISA’s proactive monitoring and surveillance efforts are instrumental in identifying and addressing potential public health risks associated with health products and services. Through post-market surveillance activities, ANVISA can identify emerging safety concerns, monitor trends in adverse events and take rapid regulatory action to mitigate risks and protect the public from harm. This proactive approach helps prevent outbreaks of foodborne illness, adverse drug reactions and other public health emergencies.

Promoting access to quality health care:
By ensuring the quality and safety of health-related products and services, ANVISA helps promote access to quality healthcare for all Brazilians. Patients and healthcare professionals can have confidence in the safety and efficacy of the products available in the market, leading to better health outcomes and improved patient care. ANVISA’s regulatory oversight also promotes innovation and competition in the healthcare sector, leading to improvements in product quality and affordability over time.

Responding to public health emergencies:
ANVISA plays a crucial role in responding to public health emergencies and crises, such as disease outbreaks, food contamination incidents and natural disasters. The agency works closely with other government agencies, health care providers and international partners to coordinate emergency response efforts, deploy resources and implement regulatory measures to protect the public. ANVISA’s rapid and effective response to emergencies helps to minimise the impact on public health and safety, and facilitates rapid recovery and rehabilitation.

Promoting consumer awareness and empowerment:
ANVISA’s regulatory activities extend beyond enforcement to include consumer education and empowerment initiatives. Through public awareness campaigns, educational materials and online resources, ANVISA helps to inform consumers about their rights and responsibilities in relation to health products and services. By empowering consumers with knowledge and information, ANVISA enables them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being, contributing to a healthier and more resilient society.

International Collaboration and Harmonisation

ANVISA recognises the importance of international collaboration and harmonisation in advancing regulatory science, promoting global health and facilitating trade in health-related products. The Agency actively engages with other regulatory authorities, international organisations and industry stakeholders to exchange information, share best practices and harmonise regulatory standards. ANVISA’s efforts in international collaboration and harmonisation are evident in several key initiatives:

Participation in global regulatory networks:
ANVISA is an active participant in various global regulatory networks and initiatives aimed at improving regulatory cooperation and convergence. The agency collaborates with organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the International Conference on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use (ICH) and the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF). Through its participation in these networks, ANVISA contributes to the development of international standards, guidelines and regulatory frameworks that promote the safety, efficacy and quality of health products worldwide.

Harmonisation of regulatory standards:
ANVISA is committed to aligning its regulatory standards and requirements with international norms and best practices to facilitate trade and streamline regulatory processes. The Agency actively participates in efforts to harmonise regulatory standards in different regions, including the Americas, Europe and Asia. By harmonising standards, ANVISA aims to reduce barriers to market access, promote innovation and ensure consistent levels of consumer protection across borders.

Mutual recognition agreements (MRAs):
ANVISA aims to establish mutual recognition agreements with other regulators to facilitate the acceptance of regulatory decisions and product approvals between countries. These agreements allow regulators to rely on each other’s assessments and inspections, reducing duplication of effort and speeding up market access for healthcare products. ANVISA has MRAs with several countries and regions, including the United States, the European Union, Canada and Mercosur member countries, promoting greater regulatory cooperation and harmonisation at the international level.

Capacity building and technical assistance:
ANVISA provides technical assistance and capacity building support to regulators in developing countries to strengthen their regulatory systems and capabilities. Through training programmes, workshops and knowledge-sharing initiatives, ANVISA contributes to enhancing regulatory capacity, improving compliance with international standards and promoting regulatory convergence. By sharing its expertise and resources, ANVISA contributes to building a more robust and harmonised global regulatory infrastructure, particularly in regions with limited regulatory capacity.

Advocacy for global health initiatives:
ANVISA advocates for global health initiatives and policies that promote equitable access to safe, effective and affordable health products for all populations. The Agency supports initiatives to combat antimicrobial resistance, promote access to vaccines, combat counterfeit medicines and improve access to essential medicines and medical technologies. By advocating for global health priorities, ANVISA demonstrates its commitment to advancing public health on a global scale and contributing to the achievement of international health goals.


ANVISA stands as a cornerstone of public health protection in Brazil, ensuring that the products consumed by its citizens meet stringent safety and efficacy standards. By understanding the role and significance of ANVISA, stakeholders can appreciate the agency’s contributions to fostering a healthier and safer society in Brazil, while also drawing parallels with regulatory systems in other countries like the FDA in the United States.