At least 18 global pharmaceutical companies have agreed to lower medicine prices following the government’s plan to set a limit price on patented medicines, intending to help the Filipinos with the high cost of health care.
On October 24, the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) said some of its members have approved to cut prices of drugs, specifically those concerning major non-transmissible and non-infectious diseases, and rare disorders.
This followed after the PHAP talked to the secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) Francisco T. Duque III in meeting earlier this week.
President Rodrigo Duterte came up with the plan to put ceiling prices on medicines as the Philippines is one of the countries that has the most expensive medicines in Asia.
By the end of the year, the DOH scheduled to issue a list of maximum drug retail price for over 120 medicines as ordered by the President.
Price ceiling, not the only solution to help Filipinos
However, the PHAP argued that putting price ceiling is not the only solution to help Filipinos.
According to PHAP Director Teodoro Padilla, the private sector can freely lower medicine prices and incorporate other approaches as well to deal with the issues of health care.
“Aside from lowering medicine prices, we are now looking at ways to help patients through their whole medical journey from prevention to treatment to cure, if that is possible,” Padilla said.
In addition, he said that Duque is putting so much effort to reduce the cost of health care for Filipino patients.
“We support the DoH objective. We in the private sector are reaching out as a government partner so we may find the best solution to the current health care gaps, and for patients and their families to fully benefit,” Padilla said.
“That is the real solution, not price control, which may be initially popular but ineffective and actually counterproductive as some countries have found out,” he added.
Price control medicine prices at unsustainable levels
Moreover, the PHAP head mentioned that price control can put prices of medicines at levels where they cannot be sustained.
“On the other hand, partnerships can help ensure that new, life-saving medicines continue to come to the country so that Filipino patients can get the most appropriate treatment at the time when it is needed.”
The drug association also stated that its members provide free or discounted drugs as well as testing and monitoring to some of their patients.
Meanwhile, DOH Pharmaceutical Division head Anna Melissa Guerrero said earlier that they will issue the price ceilings on patented medicines by the time rules on Universal Health Care Law are released.
Medicines that will be included in this implementation are those without competition in the market.
The DOH, on one hand, desires to cover drugs that address top 40 health problems in the country.