Health Dept welcomes efforts to lower prices of medicines
The Department of Health today welcomed the gesture of the Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) to voluntarily reduce prices of select drugs and medicines through their proposed “Mas Murang Gamot Program.”
The PHAP offered that drug companies and manufacturers will voluntarily reduce drug prices by as much as 75 percent for 155 medicines across 36 disease categories, for the public and private sectors.
“We appreciate the gesture (of PHAP) and we have been continuously evaluating the proposal, taking into account the intended goal of the Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP), which is to improve access to affordable medicines for all Filipinos,” Sec. Francisco T. Duque III said.
“However we must take some things into consideration. First of all, given its voluntary nature, PHAP cannot guarantee price reduction at points of sale, such as drugstores, drug retailers, and private hospitals, which comprise at least 90 percent of the total pharmaceutical market. We know that the drug prices in these markets are significantly higher compared with government prices,” Duque added.
Of the 155 drugs promised, only 107 will have prices cut across the pharmaceutical market. The remaining 43 will only be offered to DOH hospitals which only cover less than one percent of the market. Moreover, only 63 of the 122 drugs proposed by the DOH for price reduction were included in the list, with no price reduction for other high-cost medicines.
Other volunteered drugs for price reduction do not necessarily address the top burden of diseases in the country, and only affect small populations of patients.
In some cases, generic equivalents already exist for the proposed medicines which are even priced lower.
The proposed Executive Order on MDRP is being discussed and refined with the help of other government agencies such as the Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry, National Economic Development Authority, and the Philippine Competition Commission to ensure that the final price reduction initiative of the Duterte administration will have health and economic balance.
The DOH has also taken into consideration all other position papers and proposals of other important stakeholders, including medical associations, consumer organizations, and patient groups.
Forty-nine individual position papers were submitted and reviewed.
“We at the DOH consider, take note, and listen to all our stakeholders, but at the end of the day, our decision will ultimately be to champion the right to health of the Filipino people. We will not settle with good, if we can get the best for every Filipino,” Duque said. – Press release