Price freeze sought on essential medicines

Published June 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

To help healthcare companies cope with the repercussions brought about by the pandemic, European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) yesterday urged the Philippine government to impose a temporary price freeze on 133 essential medicines rather than implementing Executive Order (EO) 104, which mandates slashing of prices of essential and life saving drugs by as much as 50 percent starting today, June 2.

Instead of the mandated price control on drugs under EO 104 or the “Improving Access to Healthcare through the Regulation of Prices in the Retail of Drugs and Medicines”, ECCP urged the government to impose a temporary price freeze on medicines listed under EO No. 104 can be implemented, under a declaration of a public health emergency.

Under the EO, 87 drug molecules (equivalent to 133 preparations/ formulas) were placed under the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and Maximum Wholesale Price (MWP). Under the EO, prices of these medicines are expected to drop by 45 to 55 percent of their current prices. The list includes hypertension, diabetes, anti-asthma, anti-coagulant, anti-depressant, and anti-viral medicines.

“A temporary price freeze on medicines listed under EO 104 can be implemented, under a declaration of a public health emergency,” ECCP said.

In the meantime, the ECCP would like the government to explore sustainable approaches to improving access to medicines and medical equipment. Most of the world’s biggest innovative drug manufacturers are European pharmaceutical firms.

Alternatively, ECCP said the Philippine government should consider increasing the health budget and medicines subsidies; expanding pooled procurement and multi-year contracts to increase volume of healthcare products; and institutionalizing price negotiation based on sound review of medicine prices and economic viability of reduced prices of pharmaceutical products.

The ECCP insists that these measures will help create a business environment that is conducive to research, development, and innovation, resulting in the improved capacity of the Philippine healthcare system. Ultimately, the effective implementation of such policies will help build the country’s resilience to the current and emerging public health threats.

ECCP also urged the government to provide pharmaceutical and medical devices companies with real data forecasts on the product demand that needs to be met in the coming months.