IF many sick Filipinos, notably the poor, still seek the help of faith healers and quack doctors, blame it on the high prices of medicines in this graft-prone Southeast Asian nation.
Note that the costs of medicines are much higher in the Philippines than in most of our neighbors in the now influential Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
This, despite the implementation of two pro-poor legislation -- Republic Act (RA) No. 9502 (Cheaper Medicines Act) and RA No. 6675, otherwise known as the Generics Act of 1988.
The government came up with the landmark Generics Act years ago supposedly to bring down the cost of medicines not only in the metropolis but throughout the country.
Today, the Department of Health (DoH) plans to implement a mandatory price reduction scheme for medicines.
Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial said that this move is in compliance with the presidential directive to provide cheaper but high-quality life-saving drugs to the public.
“The current administration is determined to… undertake reforms to ensure that we bring prices down and increase government subsidy that will ease the burden of our patients,” said Ubial.
Likewise, the health department will set up a council of experts that will review the prices of drugs and submit recommendations to the Chief Executive for the regulatory pricing.
The government’s Philippine Health Agenda Medisina ng Bayan (PHAMB) program ensures the accessibility to safe, effective and quality medicines in all government medical facilities.
And we support a move to amend RA No. 6675 to encourage doctors to only prescribe generics, especially to indigent patients.
Congress should waste no time in approving measures aimed at bringing down the prices of medicines in the country.