LKI wants higher retail price cuts of medicines

The technical working group has released the proposed the maximum wholesale and retail prices on additional 72 molecules identified for mandatory price reduction, but consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) would like to see higher reduction in the proposed retail prices versus prevailing rates of these essential medicines. 

Based on the proposed prices, the technical working group (TWG) of the Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry has set a wide price difference of between zero to 93 percent between the prevailing and proposed maximum retail prices for the additional list of drugs identified for mandatory price cuts under Executive Order 104.

For instance, there is no price reduction in the prevailing retail price of anti hypertension medicine Lercanidipine at P30.80 per 10 mg tablet, and P41.74 per 20mg.

The biggest price cut was proposed on Oxybutynin at 93 percent from the prevailing P40.55 to P2.73 per 5mg tablet.

Anticonvulsant drug Levetiracetam was reduced by 9 percent only to P1,936.27 per 100mg/ml300ml oral solution versus the prevailing P2,124.00. Antidiabetic drug Liraglutide was by 63 percent to P3,173.88 from P8,600 per 6 mg/ml, 3 ml pre-filled pen.

Consumer advocacy group LKI said there is not much difference between the proposed retail prices versus the prevailing retail prices of these medicines.

“We have been paying for many years grossly overpriced medicines whether with patent or off patent,” said LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba. 

In addition, he noticed that the wholesale price is exclusive of value added tax (VAT) while retail price is vat inclusive. Dimagiba questioned the different treatment in the VAT application. Dimagiba said that distributors, traders and manufacturers enjoy a spread of or margin.

EO 104 “Improving Access to Healthcare through the Regulation of Prices in the Retail of Drugs and Medicines” or the Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP) subjected essential drug molecules to price review by a joint TWG of the DOH and DTI. The first batch took effect in June this year.

The TWG said the DOH will be accepting position papers and comments on the additional medicines’ proposed price cuts for both whole and retail prices.

In crafting the MDRP under EO 104, the DOH noted that innovative medicines are out of reach of both patient and the government.

The wholesale prices of these medicines in the Philippines were also more than twice in other ASEAN countries and in other developed economies.

Government efforts to bring down prices of essential and life-saving drugs started in 2009 with only 5 medicines included in the MDRP.