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Philippine Standard Time
The Department of Health (DOH) lauds the recent signing of Executive Order (EO) No. 104 on the Maximum Drug Retail Price by President Rodrigo Duterte, cutting the retail prices of some 87 high cost medicines by up to 58%.
 
“We are grateful for the support and genuine care of our President in looking out for the health of our people. This will propel us toward Universal Health Care which will broaden our agenda to make comfortable lives for all Filipinos,” said Health Secretary Francisco T.  Duque III said.
 
The DOH submitted its recommendation to the Office of the President to expand the scope of medicines subject to MDRP to include 122 additional medicines. Proposed medicines address leading diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung diseases, and major cancers. The list also includes high-cost treatments for prematurity, chronic renal disease, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis requested by patient and consumer organizations as well as several medical societies.
 
DOH, together with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and stakeholders, was also tasked to review the price reduction of the remaining 35 drugs to finalize the list covered by the EO.
 
Meanwhile, the ceiling prices for the 87 medicines (with 133 formulations) at the point of wholesale and retail shall already be imposed in both public and private drug retail outlets including chain and independent drugstores, hospital pharmacies, health maintenance organizations and other outlets within 90 days. The MDRP is still subject to special discounts to senior citizens and persons with disability.
 
“We will immediately issue an Administrative Order to ensure the effective implementation of the EO on MDRP and disseminate the implementing guidelines to stakeholders. Violations of the price caps will be dealt with in accordance with the Cheaper Medicines Act and other relevant laws together with the DTI and the FDA,” declared the Health Secretary. 
 
In November 2019, DOH reported the results of the Ulat ng Bayan Survey conducted by Pulse Asia showing that ninety-nine percent (99%) of Filipinos do not buy all of their prescribed medicines because of unaffordable costs. The survey also showed that seventy-one (71%) of Filipinos are only willing and able to spend less than Php 1,000 for a month’s supply of medicines, while only 24% are willing to spend up to Php 5,000 pesos.
 
“With the limited ability of many Filipinos to support even their basic needs, how can they even pay for expensive medications which could amount to Php 5 million to treat cancer, for example? We cannot accept these sky-high prices as the norm. The industry and health institutions must be socially responsible and ensure that medicines are within reach of the ordinary Filipino. All of us should be sincere in providing fair and affordable access to medicines. The health of our people is primordial over business interests,” the Health Chief Concluded.

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