The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) should exercise its function as watchdog against what is feared as bid rigging in the public procurement of health commodities.
Vic Dimagiba, convenor of the Laban Konsyumer Inc. in a statement made this call as the Department of Health (DOH ), the Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) are crafting a joint administrative order (JAO) setting the guidelines on price negotiation under the planned consolidated single-sourced procurement of medicines and devices.
The JAO calls for the establishment of the Price Negotiation Board (PNB) which will perform price negotiation on behalf of the DOH and Philhealth through public bidding.
According to Dimagiba, PCC has a key role to play in ensuring the pharmaceutical industry, as the proponents of the the bulk procurement, do not manipulate the outcome of a bidding process through collusion.
The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) expressed support to the institutionalization of price negotiations saying this is a sustainable and viable tool to improve access to medicines in light of the disruptive impact of new coronavirus disease 2019 on the industry.
“We agree that price negotiations, with a consolidated volume will strengthen the government’s leverage to drive down prices. In this time when resources are scarce, institutionalizing price
negotiations will help the government maximize limited resources and enhance support provided to patients. Price negotiations will also help promote industry recovery and viability,” said Teodoro Padilla, PHAP executive director.
Consultations are ongoing for the finalization of the JAO, the issuance of which is crucial as government spending on pharmaceuticals and medical devices is expected to continue to rise especially during this pandemic.