The Department of Health (DOH) today reiterated that an updated list of medicines has been recommended to the Office of the President last September for the imposition of maximum drug retail prices (MDRP), pursuant to the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008 (Republic Act 9502).
This comes after results of the Ulat ng Bayan September Report, conducted by Pulse Asia, revealed that 99% of Filipinos do not buy all their prescription medicines because they are expensive. Further, 23% said that medicines are not accessible, 16% said there are no medicines in their place, 4% said they had no time to buy the medicines, and 2% said they did not need to take medicines.
“Our proposed list covers 122 drugs for hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases, neonatal diseases, and major cancers; the list also covers high cost treatments for chronic renal disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis as requested by several patient organizations and medical societies,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.
The report also showed that 67% of those surveyed said they are able to buy medicines when prescribed with five different drugs for a month’s use. Of the 67%, 33% said they will be able to buy for less than a week, 26% for one week, and only 4% for 2-4 weeks.
When asked how much they were willing to spend for a month’s supply of medicines, 71% responded that they can spend or are willing to spend less than P1,000, while 24% are willing to spend up to only P5,000.
Further, 73% said that the DOH and the industry should work to lower drug prices at par with other countries. Public sentiment corroborates the results of another survey commisioned by the DOH that the Philippines is still paying far more than the international reference prices for branded and generic medicines, at 22 and 4 times more, respectively.
The same Ulat ng Bayan Report also revealed that more than half (58%) suggested to make the information on medicine prices available to the public. Fifty-six (56%) proposed to strengthen the capacity of local industries to produce generic medicines. Forty-nine (49%) wanted to import cheaper generic medicines from other countries and expedite its entry into the Philippine market, while 42% wanted to impose fines on companies that illegally increase the price of medicines.
Selected medicines under the maximum retail price scheme are expected to have a mean price reduction of 43% from the prevailing market prices once an Executive Order is signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.  
“The DOH is  working with all stakeholders towards a framework that will ensure improved patient access to and affordability of medicines. The MDRP, which will further protect Filipinos from financial difficulties, is an important aspect of our Universal Health Care reforms,” Secretary Duque concluded.