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Pharma companies to cut medicine prices up to 75%

Drug manufacturers are offering to lower medicine prices by as much as 75% for 150 medicines covering 36 disease categories.

According to the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP), drug companies are willing to give the same discount to the government for bulk purchases.

“Several of our members are prepared to extend these same price reductions to the public, if the Department of Health will agree,” executive director Teodoro Padilla said Wednesday.

PHAP noted the medicines cover following conditions: heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, asthma, psoriasis, neurologic disorders, HIV, and infectious diseases.

The diseases covered are various types of cancer like breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, kidney, ovarian, lymphomas, and prostate, the association noted.

Government hospitals are the cheapest source of medicines in the country as a result of bulk purchases.

“For instance, an anti-cholesterol tablet can sell for only P0.35 in a government hospital and a tablet for hypertension can be as low as P0.19,” Padilla said.

Citing numbers from the DOH-Drug Price Reference Index, the association noted that breast cancer medicine was procured by the Health department at 74 % lower than current market price.

The price of a kidney drug was reduced to 50% as a result of bulk procurement and direct price negotiations with the manufacturers.

The plan is to extend similar discounts to the public at large.

Padilla believed that low prices belied accusations that pharmaceutical companies are overpricing their products, claiming that the companies practiced “responsible pricing.”

The discounts would eliminate the need for price controls on medicines, Padilla said.

Price control did not work in China because such policy could drag medicine prices to drop unreasonably  and the supply to suffer because companies could not sell at a loss, he said

Price control is not sustainable because it could lead to market inefficiencies, and hurt the public, the association noted.

“We believe that medicine prices in the country are now comparable with those in ASEAN,” Padilla said.

“For specific medicines, data shows that prices in the Philippines are even lower than our neighboring nations,” the PHAP official noted.

“However, we are willing to continue working with the DOH to reduce medicine prices without the negative social costs involving the health of the people because of reduced access to life-saving medicines,” he added.

In October, the association was in talks with the DOH on lowering medicine prices in the country. —Angelica Yang/VDS, GMA News