DOH insists on price caps for medicines

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    HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday said there is a need to put caps on prices of 122 medicines to ensure these drugs will be accessible in the entire supply chain.

    Duque issued the statement a day after the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), which is opposed to the price cap, offered to reduce by almost 75

    percent the prices of some 150 medicines.
    “Given its voluntary nature, PHAP cannot guarantee price reduction at points of sale, such as drugstores, drug retailers, and private hospitals, which comprise at least 90 percent of the total pharmaceutical market. We know that the drug prices in these markets are significantly higher,” Duque said in a statement.

    “At the end of the day, our decision will ultimately be to champion the right to health of the Filipino people. We will not settle with good if we can get the best,” he added.

    Duque has submitted to President Duterte a draft executive order imposing maximum drug retail prices for 122 medicines. The order will cut prices by 56 percent.

    On PHAP’s offer, Duque said only 107 of the 150 drugs will have prices cut across the pharmaceutical market, as the remaining 43 will be offered only to DOH hospitals, which cover less than 1 percent of the market.

    Moreover, Duque said only 63 of the 122 drugs proposed by the DOH for price reduction were included in the PHAP list.

    “Other volunteered drugs for price reduction do not necessarily address the top burden of diseases in the country, and only affect small populations of patients,” Duque added.

    Among the 36 disease categories proposed to be covered by price reductions by PHAP are those for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, psoriasis, neurologic disorders, HIV, and infectious diseases.