Monday, May 5, 2008

Cheap Medicines: At long last?

Perhaps, the biggest headline this week (other than the rice issue), is the passage of the cheaper medicines law. One important provision in this law is the parallel importation of certain brands of patented medicine in countries where it is cheaper.

A lot of congressmen claim that the new law is ineffective because of certain provisions that they proposed which failed to make it in the final draft. They are talking about the “generics only” provision which requires doctors to write only the generic names of the drugs that they will describe. The current law specifies that generic names of medicines be written by doctors in their prescriptions to give patients the option to shop around for cheaper brands.

Maybe they are correct but FOR NOW, this blog thinks that such provision is not needed. A comparison of prices of certain medicines shows that generic brands are also very expensive. This means that generics manufacturers, even without costly investments in Research and Development (R & D) are selling at the price that will cost patients their arms, in addition to their legs and their only necks!

Let’s take for example, the price of Ponstan (Mefenamic Acid), 500mg capsules. Quezon Vice Gov Suplico observed its retail price in India to be as low as P5.00. In contrast, generic brands (in tablet form) in the Philippines are selling at P5.50 while Ponstan itself can be bought at P25.00.

It means that generic brands are selling the tablet form higher than the original capsule while the manufacturer is trying to suck money from 80++ million Pinoys by selling it at 500% higher than their selling price in India. There are also observations that certain brands of generic medicine are ineffective. Perhaps, substandard meds have now penetrated the local pharmacies.

For the purpose of today’s post, let us make a price comparison of certain medicines:

NORVASC (Antihypertensive), 10mg tab , 2x10's
Philippine Government Retail Price : P29.90
Current Market Price (Philippines) : 74.75 ~ P80
Observed Retail price in INDIA : P8.00 <--Price difference = 1000% --- WHOA!

PONSTAN (Pain reliever), 500mg tab
Philippine Government Retail Price: P7.00
Current Market Price (Philippines): P25.50
Observed Retail price in INDIA: P5.00 <--Price difference = 500% --- WHOA!

Enclosed is the pricelist of the Government owned Botika ng Bayan. You will notice that a price difference of 100~150% is so common. What more if we are to buy it at retail prices in India? Please click the image to enlarge.

I will have a follow up post regarding this matter.



Francesca said...

bloghopping after days of busy sched, jc.

Visiting your blog is my updates hows Pinas.

Siya, theres still a good thing our country is managing better on medicines.

Sana meron din dyn universal health care ano?

jc smith said...

Tama ka dyan, Francesca! dapat meron. :D

Salamat sa pagdalaw. Lagi akong nandun sa blog mo.

masaya dun.. :D


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