AT LEAST 18 multinational drug companies have agreed to cut prices after a government plan to put a ceiling on the prices of patented medicines amid rising health care costs.
The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) in a statement yesterday said 18 of its members have offered to cut the prices of drugs, particularly those that address major noncommunicable and infectious diseases, and rare disorders.
This comes after the group met with Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III earlier this week.
Medicine prices in the Philippines are one of the most expensive in Asia, prompting a plan by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to limit prices. The Department of Health (DoH) is expected to release by year-end a maximum drug retail price list for more than 120 medicines through an executive order signed by the president.
The drug association, which has opposed the price ceiling, said price control is not the only solution to help millions of Filipinos.
The private sector can voluntarily cut prices and include other approaches to address health care gaps, PHAP Executive Director Teodoro Padilla said in the statement.
“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,” he said.
He added that Mr. Duque is doing his best to look for ways to lower the health care costs of 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,” Mr. 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,” the PHAP head said.
Price control, he said can put medicine prices at levels that are unsustainable. “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.”
PHAP also said its member companies also offer free or discounted medicines and support testing and monitoring for some patients.
The price ceilings on patented medicines will be released once the rules that will enforce the Universal Healthcare law come out, the DoH Pharmaceutical Division head Anna Melissa S. Guerrero earlier said.
Drugs that will be covered are typically those that have no competition in the market. Further public hearings will be held before a list is finalized.
The Health department wants to include drugs that address the country’s top 40 health problems, she said. — Gillian M. Cortez