MANILA - An order by President Rodrigo Duterte to limit the cost of several medicines could raise the retail prices of generic drugs, a pharmaceutical group said Wednesday.
Duterte's order mentions only the active ingredients of the medicines, not their brand, noted Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) Executive Director Teodoro Padilla.
"Everything is just the generic equivalent, you have a combination of medicines or you have one specific molecule, as we call it. If they fall within that, all will be subject to the same price cap, which is why what we're saying is even genericized molecules may actually find themselves more expensive," he told ANC.
"If you put a price ceiling, then even retailers wil see that that is the maximum and that is where a lot will gravitate towards," he added.
The government, he said, could instead lower drug prices by following China's example and asking drug makers to make the lowest offer for supplying medicine to all hospitals across the country.
PHAP has written an appeal letter for Duterte to "look at some of the features in the [executive order] which are not helpful in the industry", said Padilla.
The health department is coordinating with PHAP to supply medicines to public hospitals and centers. The government could also import drugs in case of a supply shortage, said the agency's pharmaceutical division program manager Anna Melissa Guerrero.
"Hindi namin nais na mawalan sila (drug makers) ng business dahil nire-recognize ng DOH na ito ay tulungan between the private sector and government. Sinasabi lang namin hindi dapat sobra ang presyo ng gamot na hindi na maka-access ang mga pasyente," she told DZMM.
(We don't want drug makers to lose their business because the DOH recognizes the partnership between the private sector and government. We are only saying that the price of medicines should not be too high so that patients can get access.)