56 percent drop in prices of medicines looms

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MARKET prices of at least 120 "high-cost" medicines for "leading diseases and catastrophic conditions in the Philippines" are expected to drop by as much as 56 percent soon.

The Department of Health (DOH) said it will submit to President Rodrigo Duterte an updated list of medicines for the imposition of the maximum drug retail prices (MDRP), pursuant to the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008 (Republic Act 9502).

"The objectives of the MDRP policy are to promote and ensure access to affordability and quality drugs, to achieve universal health care, including financial risk protection," said DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo in a media briefing.

"High prices of medicines undermine the health of millions of Filipinos. Drug prices must come down to fair and affordable level," he added.

Among the medicines up for MDRP are those for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases, and major cancers.

Also in the list recommended by the Drug Price Advisory Council are those for chronic renal disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.

"Medicines were chosen on the basis of burden of disease in terms of magnitude and the severity of the conditions, high price arbitrage when compared with selected reference countries, and the presence of limited competition," said Domingo.

He said they decided to submit a list to the Office of the President as the country is still paying higher prices when compared to other countries despite Republic Act 9502.

"Generic drugs are still sold up to four times the international reference prices, whereas branded products are sold up to 22 times higher, especially in private hospitals and pharmacies," he noted.

Nevertheless, Domingo assured pharmaceutical companies that they will not get the short end of the stick.

"We will balance the objectives of the policy to ensure that the medicines are affordable to our patients, while also considering the viability of the industry," he said.

He said the expected price reduction of 56 percent from the prevailing market prices shall be in effect once Duterte issues an executive order on the matter. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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