Medicine makers wary of price cuts

A group of drugmakers said Thursday continuing their business in the Philippines “may not be viable” should the government cut the prices of some 120 medicines.

READ: Drug makers vow price cuts

“There are some medicines that are going to be affecting the bread and butter of a good number of our members, and that will definitely affect their operations here,” said Teodoro Padilla, executive director of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines.

“Looking at it from the point of view of business, it may not be viable to continue at that scale.”

The Health department had earlier asked President Rodrigo Duterte to lower the prices of some medicines here, saying the drug rates in the country were, at most, 70 times higher compared with the prices of the same brands in the other countries.

READ: DOH mulls over price cap on 120 members

The department said it will submit a draft executive order endorsing the price cuts for expensive medicines

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

Padilla said the medicines in the Philippines were “comparable” to those in its neighbors in Southeast Asia.

“And with respect to the fact that there is very fierce competition in the generics sector with medicine pricing, it shows that the market is striving very well,” he said.

Padilla urged the government to procure medicines since it had the “budget to purchase in bulk.”

“When government comes in to negotiate, they can say we have this amount, give us the best price,” he said.

“This is currently being done in Thailand and China, which used to have a price control mechanism but then they got rid of it simply because they knew they were not going to get the best deals by simply imposing price controls.”

The department’s pharmaceutical chief Anna Guerrero said the agency had set four criteria in selecting the 120 medicines whose prices should be cut: Medicines for major diseases such as hypertension, higher drug prices compared with other countries, limited competition, and medicines for “disadvantaged populations.”

She said her department had “extensive consultation” with drug makers, patient organizations and consumers.

“Of course we have to consider also the impact to the industry, we don’t really want them to go out of business. We want affordable and fair access, that’s all we want,” Guerrero said.

“We are not a very rich country, they have to be pricing their medicines at a reachable level to the Filipinos.”

Guerrero said they were eying President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature by December and lower medicine prices after 120 days.

READ: Include all essential meds to MDRP list—Senator Go

Topics: Teodoro Padilla , Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines , Rodrigo Duterte , Department of Health
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