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Price cap imposed on 133 medicines

President Rodrigo Duterte signed an executive order Monday setting a price ceiling on certain medicines in a bid to make quality drugs accessible to Filipinos.

Executive Order 104 sets the maximum prices for 86 drug molecules or 133 drug formulas for hypertension, diabetes, heart and pulmonary diseases, major cancers, and depression.

Also covered are painkillers, medicines for psoriasis, and Immuno-suppressants or drugs used to make the body less likely to reject a transplanted organ.

The maximum retail prices of drugs identified in the order apply to all medicines in all outlets, including drugstores, hospitals, pharmacies, convenience stores, and supermarkets.

The price cap for wholesale prices, on the other hand, will be imposed on all manufacturers, traders, and distributors.

Within 30 days of the issuance of the order, a technical working group from the Health and Trade departments will review the prices of the remaining 36 drug molecules or 72 drug formulas previously proposed, the EO states.

The order also stated that within a non-extendable period of 90 days from the EO’s effectivity, existing medicines in the market are allowed to be sold at the prevailing prices.

The Department of Health earlier said that the prices of selected medicines in the EO were expected to have a mean reduction of 56 percent from the prevailing market prices once the order takes effect.

The measure, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said, was part of the “real and lasting reform” that President Duterte has instituted.

“Access to affordable and quality drugs and medicines is now a reality under the Duterte administration,” he said.

The Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines said it will comply with the EO, but called on the government to closely monitor its impact on the pharmaceutical industry and the general public. 

In a statement, PHAP said it has consistently opposed price control because artificial measures result in market inefficiencies and lack of supply.

“If reasonable profits are not realized, pharmaceutical companies would review the sustainability of [their] operations in the Philippines, including the possible downsizing in the number of employees. The Philippines would also lose its attractiveness to investments. The billions of taxes they pay would also be lost,” the association said.

“Equally important is that innovative drugs, or new medicines and vaccines produced from years of expensive research to address current or emerging health threats, would likely not be introduced in the Philippines,” it added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III welcomed the Palace decision. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , quality drugs , medicines , Department of Health
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