Stroke medication alteplase or tissue plasminogen activator will be made available for free in selected government hospitals nationwide, the Department of Health (DOH) announced.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial explained, alteplease, which usually costs P80,000 per vial, was procured by the department in bulk at P30,000.
“Alteplase is truly a life saving drug and every stroke patient eligible to receive it, should have access to it. It is not acceptable that a patient who cannot shelve out Php 80,000 will be deprived of this emergency medicine at a time when this is needed the most," she said Tuesday.
The medicine, she explained, is ideally given in the first 3 hours upon onset of acute stroke.
Ubial however reminded doctors must first distinguish the type of stroke the patient has because alteplease will only benefit a patient with ischemic type of stroke as the medicine "breaks down unwanted blood clots."
"Alteplase will just worsen the stroke if given to those with the haemorrhagic type since this will just promote more bleeding in the brain," she added.
The following government hospitals will offer free alteplease under the DOH's Stroke Medical Assistance program:
- East Avenue Medical Center
- Philippine Heart Center
- Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center
- National Kidney and Transplant Institute
- Quirino Memorial Medical Center
- Las Piñas General Hospital & Satellite Trauma Center
- Philippine General Hospital
- Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center
- -Mariano Marcos Memorial Medical Center
- Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
- Cagayan Valley Medical Center
- Southern Isabela General Hospital
- Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital
- Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research & Medical Center
- Batangas Medical Center
- Bicol Regional Training & Teaching Hospital
- Bicol Medical Center
- Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital
- Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital
- Western Visayas Medical Center
- Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center
- Zamboanga City Medical Center
- Cotabato Regional and Medical Center
- Northern Mindanao Medical Center
- Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Regional & Teaching Hospital
- Southern Philippines Medical Center
Ubial has also instructed that government hospitals partner with private hospitals which will have to admit patients due to the emergency nature of the stroke.
Private hospitals will only have to write to hospitals under DOH requesting for alteplase vials and the request will be granted, provided there is assurance that the medicine will be given for free, not even minimal cost, to eligible patients.
Stroke, though treatable, is preventable, stressed the department, and the best way to do it is by engaging in a healthy lifestyle.
Ubial warns against smoking and drinking alcohol excessively and encourages regular aerobic activity.
“Hypertensive and diabetic patients should take their medications regularly as well as maintain healthy lifestyle. Maintain your ideal body weight. Avoid high-caloric and fatty foods. Eat diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products," she added.