DOH slams group for opposing drug price cap

HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday, November 29, scored the pharmaceutical companies in the country for continuously opposing the planned revival of the maximum drug retail prices (MDRP) on selected medicines.

In a press briefing, Duque said there is nothing new with the opposition posed by the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) to the proposed price control on medicines.

"I think it is almost unconscionable for a country like ours, which is a middle income country, where the price of anti-cancer drug is higher than those in rich countries. It is the people that are in the losing end," said Duque.

"Nothing is new. They just want to protect ther profitability. That's why," he added.

Duque noted how the alternative options being proposed by the PHAP are not enough to ensure lower priced medicines in the market.

"They (PHAP) admitted that they cannot control the retailers and resellers' pricing of the medicines," he pointesd.

The Health chief said the continued unavailability of cheaper medicines leaves the Department of Health (DOH) with no other option but to revive the MDRP and imposing this on 120 medicines.

"There is no other choice except to submit an Executive Order for the consideration of President. A total of 120 medicines to be subjected to MDRP. That will address the pricing structure throughout the supply chain, distributors, retailers, resellers, etc," Duque said.

Instead of repeatedly opposing the MDRP, Duque urged the PHAP to just cooperate with the DOH.

"We call upon our friends from PHAP to be more sensitive and to again exercise their corporate social responsibility," said Duque.

The PHAP has been opposing the planned drug price control.

The group proposed that they be allowed to voluntarily lower their prices. An option is for the government to make the bulk procurement of medicines at a lower price, the group said.

In a statement on Friday, PHAP reiterated that drug price control, while beneficial on the surface, has been found to be counter-productive in other countries.

PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla said they have been trying to explain to the DOH the experiences of other countries when it comes to drug price control.

"We have been asking for a meeting with our DOH officials to explain that there is a better way, that our prices are comparable to Asean countries, and that price control on medicines doesn't work," said Padilla.

"We hope we can explain our side before the government makes a decision on the proposed MDRP," he added.

The PHAP also renewed its proposal for a "straight price reduction" on medicines, while offering patient assistance programs.

PHAP reiterated that the DOH should consider the lowered procurement cost that can be brought about by bulk purchases by the government from the pharmaceutical companies.

"We have been supportive of the efforts of the government to make medicines accessible to all. We are ready to be part of the solution," said Padilla. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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