By Gillian M. Cortez

THE Department of Health (DoH) said it will submit its price-controlled list for 122 drugs this week for the approval of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique C. Domingo told BusinessWorld that Secretary Francisco T. Duque is set to endorse an executive order (EO) that will set a Maximum Retail Drug Price (MRDP) for 122 medicines to Mr. Duterte before this week ends.

“The plan is to forward it by this week,” he said, adding that it’s up to Mr. Duterte to sign it or not.

The MRDP will cover treatments for the Philippines’ top 40 diseases.

According to the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. (RA) 9502 or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008, a Drug Price Advisory Council (DPAC) is to determine which medicines will fall under the MRDP scheme. This list will be sent to the Health Secretary for approval before being forwarded to the President who will implement the price ceilings through an EO.

The Philippines has some of the most expensive medicines in Asia, with affordability becoming an urgent matter on the eve of Universal Health Care (UHC) next year.

The DoH has said it hopes the MRDP will be approved before 2019 ends.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), out-of-pocket spending on health was P413.0 billion in 2018, with P206.7 billion spent on pharmaceuticals.