Pharma firms' offer to cut drug prices to bring 'very limited benefits': DOH

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 25 2019 11:27 AM | Updated as of Oct 25 2019 11:47 AM

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MANILA — An offer by 18 multi-national drug firms to slash their retail prices will bring "very limited" benefits, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Friday, as his agency eyed setting a price cap on 120 medicines. 

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) said it informed the agency last week that 18 of its members offered to cut the prices of drugs for rare disorders and major noncommunicable and infectious diseases. 

The proposal will not be able to control the price mark-up at pharmacies, hospitals and other retailers, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque. 

"Papaano kung teacher ka, pulis na nagkaroon ka ng malubhang sakit pagpunta mo sa retailers na iyan, ang mahal ng presyo? Wala ring epekto, ibaba nga nila pero pagdating naman sa dulo sa supply chain, hindi naman maibaba. E di useless, very limited ang benefits ng kanilang mungkahi," he told radio DZMM. 

(What if you are a teacher, policeman who fell seriously ill and when you go to those retailers, the price is high? It will have no effect if they bring down the price but it won't move in the end of the supply chain. That's useless, their suggestion will have very limited benefits.) 

The DOH earlier said it was considering asking President Rodrigo Duterte to sign an executive order that will set a price ceiling for 120 drugs

The agency is still consulting with stakeholders and "looking at (the) legal angle" of the plan, said Duque. 

The proposal covers medicines for diabetes, hypertension, newborn diseases, cancer and psoriasis, among others, DOH Spokesperson and Undersecretary Eric Domingo earlier said. 

The prices of some drugs were last slashed in 2009 through an executive order by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.