Price cut looms on more medicines

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    A technical working group (TWG) of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has released a draft joint memorandum order (JMO) cutting the prices of a second batch of medicines by a low of 9 percent to a high of 93 percent.

    The TWG proposes the maximum wholesale and retail prices of 35 molecules or 72 formulations ranging from analgesics to growth hormone inhibitor and psoriasis.

    The biggest drop of 93 percent is proposed on the price of Oxybutynin, a medicine for overactive bladder, whose prevailing cost for a 5 milligram tablet is now of P40.55. The draft JMO proposes to lower to P1.68 maximum wholesale price (MWP) excluding value-added tax (VAT) and to P2.73 maximum retail price (MRP), VAT included.

    Growth hormone inhibitor Octreotide which has the highest price in the list is today costs P188,864.95 per 30-mg vial and will go down.

    Under the proposal, the MWP will go down to P63,362 and its MRP to P88,729 or a 53 percent reduction.

    The DOH said it is accepting comments on the proposed JMO until November 25.

    The DOH, DTI and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) also recently released a draft joint administrative (JAO) order tackling the constitution of a price negotiation board which will perform transparent price negotiation on behalf of the DOH and Philhealth.

    The JAO said the board, composed of government, healthcare and patient organization representatives, shall “recognize that competition through public bidding is more effective in determining an efficient market price”.

    The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) in a statement reiterated its support to the use of price negotiations as a way to strengthen the government’s leverage to provide quality and affordable medicines to Filipinos.

    “In this time when resources are scarce, institutionalizing price negotiations will help the government maximize limited resources and enhance the support provided to Filipinos,” said PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla said. “Price negotiation strengthens the bargaining power of the government to drive prices down, and eventually providing medicines for free or at significantly lowered prices for the people.”

    The group said the significant contraction in the prescription market and unexpected disruptions in the supply chain, along with the imposition of mandatory price caps on medicines added to the burden of pharmaceutical companies struggling to recover losses due to the pandemic.

    Instead of mandatory price regulation, other countries implement price negotiation to improve medicine affordability and availability. For example, China introduced its price negotiation mechanism in 2017, achieving discounts of up to 71 percent by consolidating medicine requirements among its provinces.

    In the Philippines, public-private partnerships that produced consolidated volume across government hospitals have resulted in major discounts of up to 50 to 74 percent for kidney transplant drugs and breast cancer treatments.