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PHAP seeks dialog over price control

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines expressed hope Sunday it can hold a dialogue with Philippine government officials on the recommended maximum retail prices of medicines. 

The group made the statement after citing the P11 billion in losses supposedly incurred by the pharmaceutical industry.

“We hope we can explain our side before the government makes a decision on the proposed MRP,” said PHAP executive director Teodoro Padilla. 

He said that when the price control on medicines was imposed in 2009, the industry lost  P11 billion and small retailers closed down or were sold to the bigger chains. 

The suggested price control on medicines, he warned, would kill the small retailers.  

A joint position paper on the proposed MRP signed by pharmaceutical industry stakeholders said “several small- and medium-sized drugstores were forced to close down or were sold to larger chains, affecting not only businesses but also pharmacists employed in these drugstores.”

The stakeholders included  professional pharmacist associations, the pharmaceutical industry and hospital associations, and pharmacy retail groups said it would be “hurting patients instead of helping them.”

They said a study on the effect of price regulation in the Philippines in 2014, which said “these interventions should be carefully monitored as pharmaceutical policies, including price regulation, may not always lead to an over-all benefit to the public, and may even cause harm by discouraging the introduction of new products to a country.”

Padilla said price controls would force manufacturers to reconsider whether to launch new medicines in the country or even withdraw some products from the market. 

The joint position paper said other studies on the impact of MRP revealed that price regulation did not significantly increase access to medicines.  

“In 2010, the Center for Legislative Development found that while prices are going down, medicines can still remain unaffordable due to low purchasing capacity brought about by low income levels and the limited or lack of medicine financing. 

“More is to be accomplished in relation to the high out-of-pocket spending for health care which remains at 55 percent.

While beneficial on the surface, Teodoro said,  controls had been found counter-productive and eventually were withdrawn in other countries including China.  He said  other countries found that strong market competition trumped any price intervention.

“We have been asking for a meeting with our officials to explain that there is a better way, that our prices are comparable to ASEAN countries, and that price control on medicines doesn’t work.

Competition was robust in the industry, he said, with 350 manufacturers, 9,000 distributors and 23,000 retailers, and the public could choose between branded and generic medicines.

“A viable solution is for the [Health department] to make available the cheapest medicines because of lowered procurement cost from pharmaceutical companies,” Padilla said.

This was made possible by bulk purchases by the government from the pharmaceutical companies.

“Our prices under this arrangement are low, so that medicines in government hospitals are priced at times at a fraction of those in the open market,” he said.

Topics: Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines , Teodoro Padilla , Department of Health , Center for Legislative Development
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