Drugmakers offer to slash prices as gov't seeks price caps

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 18 2019 04:47 PM

MANILA - Medicine manufacturers on Wednesday said they can slash prices of around 150 medicines "by as much as 75 percent" even as they rejected the Department of Health's proposal to cap drug prices. 

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) said the price cuts would cover drugs for heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, psoriasis, neurologic disorders, HIV, and infectious diseases, among others. 

"Also being offered voluntarily are price reductions for medicines for various types of cancer, such as breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, kidney, ovarian, lymphomas, and prostate, among others," the group said in a statement. 

PHAP made the offer after the DOH reiterated its proposal to impose a ceiling on 120 drugs to make them more affordable, pursuant to the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008.

The DOH said the price caps were needed after a Pulse Asia survey revealed that 99 percent of Filipinos do not buy all their prescription medicines because they are expensive. 

The Philippines is still paying far more than the international reference prices for branded and generic medicines, at 22 and 4 times more, respectively, the DOH said based on a survey it commissioned. 

PHAP meanwhile has opposed price caps saying this would put its members out of business, and would lead to "market inefficiencies." 

PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla instead called on the government to buy in bulk from drug manufacturers as drugmakers give big discounts for bulk purchases. 

The government can then use public hospitals as outlets for medicines so these could be sold at cheaper prices, he said. 

“The proposal to impose price control needs further study and consultation with the stakeholders,” said Padilla.

The DOH expects President Rodrigo Duterte to approve this month its proposal to cap the prices of medicines.