MANILA – The newly-signed Executive Order (EO) No. 104 which regulates the prices of drugs and medicine will now make prices in the Philippines “at par” with its Southeast Asian neighbors, a Palace official said on Tuesday.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar hailed the signing of the medicine price cap, saying it is a testament of President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to improve access to healthcare goods and services.
“We laud President Duterte for signing the Executive Order (EO) No. 104 which will regulate and set the maximum retail prices and/or maximum wholesale prices on certain priority drugs and medicines for Filipinos, particularly those for diseases that are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality,” Andanar said in a statement.
Andanar said the drugs and medicines in the Philippines are considered among the most expensive in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
In the Mercer Marsh Benefits 2019 Medical Trends Around the World report, medical inflation in the Philippines increased to 13.7 percent in 2019 from 13 percent in 2018.
The Philippines is behind Vietnam which has the highest medical costs in the region at 14.2 percent this year, lower than the 14.5 percent in 2018.
“As prices of medicines and drugs in the Philippines have been one of the steepest in the region, the E.O. will enable the Philippine Medicine and Drug Market’s prices to be at par with that of the prices of our neighboring countries,” Andanar said.
Since drugs and medications make up a large part of Filipinos health expenses, Andanar was grateful that the order was signed to provide access to quality and affordable drugs and medicines particularly for the poor.
He also assured that the Duterte administration will remain committed to prioritize the health and well-being of all Filipinos.
“We will continue to undertake measures and programs that will further expand everyone’s access to healthcare and further promote the health development of Filipinos, in order to realize President Duterte’s goal of providing a dignified and comfortable life for all,” he said.
On Monday (February 17), Duterte signed EO. 104 titled "Improving Access to Healthcare through the Regulation of Prices in the Retail of Drugs and Medicines” to impose price regulation through a maximum retail price (MRP), maximum wholesale price (MWP) on certain drugs and medicines.
The EO lists over 100 drugs and medicines registered under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and available in the market including antihypertensives, antidiabetic, anti-cancer, analgesics or painkillers, and anticoagulants or blood thinners among others with MRPs and/or MWPs.
It stated that the MRP of all drugs and medicines shall be imposed on all public and private retail outlets, including drugstores, hospitals and hospital pharmacies, health maintenance organizations, convenience stores and supermarkets, and the like.
On the other hand, the MWP of all drugs and medicines shall be imposed on all manufacturers, wholesalers, traders, distributors, and the like. No public or private entity shall be allowed to sell, reimburse or demand from the public or patients’ payment in an amount higher than the MRP or MWP, as the case may be.
The EO is expected to cut prices of over 100 drugs by around 56 percent from their prevailing market prices.
Based on the Ulat ng Bayan September report of Pulse Asia released by the Department of Health (DOH), 99 percent of Filipinos are not able to afford their prescription medicines because they are expensive.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the price cap on drugs and medicines would improve access to Universal Health Care. (PNA)