Duque, pharma trade barbs over price cap
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III slammed pharmaceutical firms for only thinking of their profits after they warned on Friday that putting a maximum price on 120 medicines would supposedly force manufacturers not to introduce new drugs in the country and even pull out existing ones.
Duque stressed that the reason he wanted to put a maximum drug retail price (MDRP) on 120 medicines for such diseases as cancer and diabetes was because it is “unconscionable” for a developing country like the Philippines to have medicines that are costlier than those in high-income countries.
“They have been telling that many times. Nothing is new. They just want to protect their profitability,” Duque said of the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines’ (PHAP) warning.
Patients to be hurt
On Friday, PHAP warned that the government’s price control proposal would only hurt patients as manufacturers would reconsider launching new medicines or even pull out existing products in the country.
The PHAP pointed out that a 2014 study showed that price regulation “may not always lead to an overall benefit to the public and may even cause harm by discouraging the introduction of new products to a country.”
“When price controls were imposed in 2009, the industry lost P11 billion, small retailers closed down or were sold to bigger chains, and the targeted patients still were not able to buy at all or at the right dosages,” PHAP said in a statement.
Earlier, PHAP proposed that instead of government putting a price cap, they would just substantially lower the prices of their medicines. Under the MDRP, the prices of 120 medicines is expected to go down by as much as 56 percent.
Duque, however, thumbed down the group’s proposal since there’s no guarantee that the public would fully benefit from it.
The health chief pointed out that MDRP, which covers the entire supply chain, was necessary because the current cost of medicines is a “poverty converter.”
In the case of cancer patients, he said they would have to shell out at least P2 million for their treatment.
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