Duque: ‘Limited benefits’ from drug firms’ offer of price cuts

An offer by multinational drug companies to cut their retail prices would bring limited benefits, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Friday.

READ: Drug makers vow price cuts

The companies, members of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines, last week offered to cut prices of drugs for rare disorders and major diseases, even as the Health department contemplates setting a price cap on 120 medicines.

But Duque said the proposal would not include mark-ups at pharmacies, hospitals and other retailers.

“What if you are a teacher, or a policeman who falls seriously ill and when you go to those retailers, the price is high?” Duque said in Filipino on radio dzMM. “It will have no effect if they bring down the price on their end, but not at the end of the supply chain. That’s useless. Their proposal will have very limited benefits.”

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

The proposal covers medicines for diabetes, hypertension, newborn diseases, cancer and psoriasis.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization hailed the eradication of wild polivirus type 3 as a “historic achievement for humanity” that leaves only one strain of the virus in transmission.

All three types of wildpolio can cause paralysis and death, but WHO categorizes them separately in terms of eradication because of certain virological differences.

The last confirmed case of WPV3 was recorded in northern Nigeria in 2012.

An independent panel, chaired by WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, concluded that the required criteria have been met to “verify that this strain is truly gone,” the United Nations health agency said in a statement.

WPV2 was declared eradicated in 2015, but WPV1 continues to circulate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Non-wild forms of polio—known as vaccine-derived polio—remain in transmission in parts of Africa and Asia, including the Philippines where a reemergence last month nearly two decades after the last case has triggered a mass vaccination campaign.

Vaccine-derived polio is caused by the weakened form of the virus used in vaccines, which is excreted by people for a time after they receive it.

According to WHO, that form can mutate and spread in the surrounding community when immunization rates get too low.

READ: PHAP vows to help DOH bring down medicine prices

“We cannot stop our efforts now: We must eradicate all remaining strains of all polioviruses,” David Salisbury, chairman of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, said in the statement. With AFP

Topics: Department of Health , Francisco Duque III , Medicine , World Health Organization , Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines
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