Consumer group doubts PHAP’s counteroffer

    Limited benefit. LKI says pooled procurement will only cover DOH hospitals and will not reach retail distribution that has a wider reach.
    Limited benefit. LKI says pooled procurement will only cover DOH hospitals and will not reach retail distribution that has a wider reach.

    Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) expressed doubt over the benefit of a counter-proposal of the pharmaceutical companies to a government-mandated price cuts.

    LKI said in a statement the proposal of the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) for a pooled bidding by the government of medicines at lower prices in Department of Health (DOH) hospitals limits the reach of cheaper medicines to consumers and patients who truly need it from around the country at retail drug stores .

    “The impact to patients will be doubtful, especially those availing in drugstores and private hospitals. Consumers right now are suffering from high drug prices. We need to start thinking less about profits, and more about the health and well-being of the Filipinos,” said Vic Dimagiba, LKI president.

    In a statement, Dimagiba said big pharmaceutical companies should not hold hostage their drugs by raising prices, to an even higher mark than of the Philippines’ neighboring countries.

    “The Philippines is still developing, meaning that many consumers still do not have high enough incomes to currently purchase or buy the better medicines on the market. Our medicine industry needs to work for more affordability and accessibility,” Dimagiba added.

    Dimagiba said the DOH was on the right track when it wanted to place 120 medicines under Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP), as “these are medicines for leading diseases and catastrophic conditions in the Philippines such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases and cancer.

    He added priority should be securing adequate amount of quality medicine and making it viable for consumers, especially those marginalized and poor who may not have the means to buy expensive drugs.”

    LKI added “contrary to what PHAP is saying that price control on medicine is detrimental to patients, the very fact that price control will be able to lower the costs of much-needed medicine means that patients will enjoy the benefits of these items and products to a higher degree, granting and ensuring their well-being, health, safety and longer lives.”

    He also urged the DOH and the PHAP to resolve the issue swiftly.

    The DOH last week said an updated list of medicines has been recommended to the Office of the President last September for the imposition of MRDP covering 122 drugs for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases, and major cancers; the list also covers high cost treatments for chronic renal disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.