Gov't urged to find 'better way' of reducing medicine prices

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 29 2019 05:25 PM

MANILA – The government should consider other means of reducing prices of medicines as putting a maximum cap could hurt patients, pharmacists and pharmacies in the long run, a healthcare association said Friday. 

Bulk procurement can be arranged with manufacturers instead of imposing a maximum price cap on medicines, executive director of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) Teodoro Padilla said in a statement. 

The group said it could help the government "work out a system" for bulk procurement. 

"A viable solution is for the DOH to make available the cheapest medicines because of lowered procurement cost from pharmaceutical companies," Padilla said.

"Our prices under this arrangement are low that medicines in government hospitals are priced at times at a fraction than those in the open market," he added

The Department of Health is pushing for a measure that aims to reduce prices of medicine and to impose maximum drug retail prices based on RA 9502 or the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said medicine prices in the country could be 70 times higher compared to those sold in other countries. Duque said a recommendation would be sent to the office of President Rodrigo Duterte.

PHAP said it hoped to explain its side to the government before a decision is made. 

"We have been asking for a meeting with our officials to explain that there is a better way that our prices are comparable to ASEAN countries, and that price control on medicines doesn't work. We hope we can explain our side before the government makes a decision on the proposed MRP," Padilla said. 

Consumer watchdog Laban Konsyumer, meanwhile, earlier expressed support for the health department's plan, saying big pharmaceutical companies can still profit even if prices were lowered.