DOH eyes making cancer meds VAT-free

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2019 03:45 PM | Updated as of Jan 16 2019 10:26 PM

MANILA - The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing the exemption of cancer medicine from value-added tax, an official said Wednesday.

DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo announced efforts to make cancer medication VAT-free after citing a clamor from advocacy groups and the recent move of the government to remove VAT for diabetes, hypertension and high-cholesterol medication under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN).

“Iyung sa TRAIN Law kasi limited sa tatlo: anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetis and anti-cholesterol (medicine). Pero ang strong clamor natin ngayon which we are discussing with an interagency working group is 'yung gamot para sa cancer,” Domingo said in a press briefing.

(Under the TRAIN law, [the exemption] is limited to three: anti-hypertensive, anti-diabetis and anti-cholesterol (medicine). But there is strong clamor now [for the exemption of] cancer medicine, which we are discussing with an interagency working group.) 

“We have very strong patient groups and mga NGOs working with us. Tinitingnan namin kung paano natin masama ang cancer diseases (We are looking at how we could include [medicine] for cancer diseases).”

The Department of Finance recently announced that over 100 kinds of medicine for the treatment and prevention of diabetes, hypertension and high-cholesterol are now exempt from the 12-percent VAT due to the TRAIN Law.

Commonly prescribed drugs such as Metformin for diabetes, Amlodipine for hypertension and Simvastatin for high cholesterol are on the list and are now cheaper with the VAT-exemption as provided under the TRAIN Law, the DOF said.