Anti-poor prices

November 22, 2019

IN the Philippines, where many people still live below the so-called poverty line, the availability of cheap but quality medicines is a must for the survival of poor patients across the country.

Unfortunately, however, several pharmaceutical companies are reportedly blocking moves to bring down the prices of medicines, particularly the 120 drugs for common diseases.

They include cancer, diabetes, heart disease and asthma, said Sen. Risa Hontiveros during last Tuesday’s plenary deliberation on the 2020 budget of the Department of Health (DoH).

The said firms are reportedly against the proposed use of government’s regulatory powers under the Cheaper Medicines Act to lower the “unfair and anti-poor prices of medicines.”

Hontiveros called on the health department to identify the said pharmaceutical companies and question them why they are opposing the initiatives to lower the prices of medicines.

“Nananawagan ako sa DoH na pangalanan ang mga pharmaceutical company na mas inuuna pa ang kanilang malalaking tubo at kita kaysa sa buhay at kalusugan ng mamamayan,” she added.

The lady senator lamented that the prices of medicines in this impoverished Southeast Asian country remain high and beyond the reach of majority of the Filipino.

A study commissioned by the DoH showed that on average, the prices of medicines in impoverished Philippines are still significantly higher than the international reference prices.

Bringing down the prices of medicines is one way of giving flesh to the pro-poor program of Duterte’s six-year presidency, which started in June 2016 and ends at 12 noon on June 30, 2022.

Everybody ought to help unburden the Filipino people from the problem of expensive medicines.