Hontiveros urges DOH to name pharma firms blocking move for cheaper medicines

Robie de Guzman
Senator Risa Hontiveros

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Risa Hontiveros urges the Department of Health (DOH) to identify the pharmaceutical firms that are reportedly blocking the move to lower the price of medicines.

“Nanawagan ako sa DOH na pangalanan ang mga pharmaceutical companies na mas inuuna pa ang kanilang malalaking tubo at kita kaysa sa buhay at kalusugan ng mamamayan. Sa panahon na kaliwa’t kanan ang epidemiya at mga nagkakasakit, ang presyo ng gamot ay hindi dapat dagdag-pasakit,” Hontiveros said during the Senate plenary deliberation of DOH’s budget for 2020 on Tuesday night.

She said there is reportedly a strong lobby from several pharmaceutical companies opposing the proposed use of government’s regulatory powers under the Republic Act 9502 or the Cheaper Medicines Act to lower the “unfair and anti-poor” prices of much-needed medicines nationwide.

The DOH earlier listed around 120 high-cost medicines that will be recommended for price reduction under a maximum drug retail price (MDRP) scheme.

These medicines particularly treat leading diseases and conditions including diabetes, heart disease, lung diseases and different types of cancers.

“While I welcome the willingness of pharmaceutical companies to work towards improving the country’s healthcare system, I would like to remind them that it is the exorbitant prices of medicines charged in both public and private sectors which have undermined the effective delivery of health services, to the detriment of poor and even middle-class families,” Hontiveros said.

She also maintained that prices of medicines in the Philippines “remain high,” and “out of reach” of the majority of Filipinos.

Hontiveros cited a study commissioned by the DOH which states that the medicine prices in the country are still significantly higher than the international reference prices.

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