THE Department of Health has sent a list of at least 120 medicines and drugs to be subjected to price control by government, and the department is just waiting for the final action of President Duterte,” according to Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo.
The list was contained in a draft executive order which, if approved by the President, will reduce prices of selected drugs by as much as 56 percent.
“We really want pricing of these drugs to be fair to Filipinos. We don’t want manufacturers to lose their businesses or for them to suffer losses. All we are asking for are reasonable prices of medicines,” said Domingo.
Earlier, the DOH said that among those being eyed for inclusion are medicines for hypertension, diabetes, major cancers, and cardiovascular, neonatal and chronic lung diseases.
The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) remains opposed to a drug price cap.
In a statement last Friday, PHAP reiterated that drug price control, while appearing to be beneficial to the public, as been found to be counter-productive in other countries.
It also said “several small- and medium-sized drugstores were forced to close down” or to sell to larger chains because of the drug price control, thereby affecting not only businesses but also pharmacists employed in the drugstores.
It did not identify the countries and the drugstores.
“Interventions should be carefully monitored as pharmaceutical policies, including price regulation, may not always lead to an overall benefit to the public and may even cause harm,” said PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla.
He also said that while prices are going down, medicines remain unaffordable due to low purchasing capacity brought about by low income levels and or lack of medicine financing.
“A viable solution is for the DOH to make available the cheapest medicines because of lowered procurement costs from pharmaceutical companies,” Padilla said, adding this could be through bulk purchases by government from pharmaceutical companies.
“The maximum benefits of buying in bulk — or buy one, take one for example — matches the approach to the objective, and this will really help the public, including those with financial difficulties,” Padilla said.