Move to cap price of essential medicine

Source: http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/nst/Saturday/National/20060701080647/Article/index_html

Move to cap price of essential medicine
01 Jul 2006
Adie Suri Zulkefli

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The Health Ministry is proposing to put a cap on the price of more than 1,000 essential medicines, including aspirin, antibiotics and painkillers. Other common medication to treat hypertension, diabetes and depression are also likely to be included.

Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the proposal will soon become a reality once the National Medicines Policy is implemented.

The main aim of the policy was to ensure patients had access to safe, high quality and effective medication at an affordable price, he added.

He also said the move to control the price of essential medicines was timely as patients were now made to dig deep into their pocket to pay for medication.

“We are concerned with the high price of essential medicines, and it is time for us to have some form of control on the pricing,” he said after opening the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Berapits new hall yesterday.

He said the draft of the proposal would be with the Cabinet within two months.

The ministrys Pharmaceutical Department was working to come up with a list of the essential medicines available in the market, he added.

He explained that the ceiling price for the relevant medicines would be set based on the lowest price of each medicine in the market.

“At the moment, the prices are not standardised as one type of medicine is sold at a lower price in one state and two or three times higher in another place,” he said.

Dr Chua said his ministry was also liasing with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry on the possibility of imposing the ceiling price of the essential medicines.

Pending the implementation of the policy, he said patients were advised to opt for generics-based medicines that have been endorsed by the ministry, which were sold at a much cheaper price.

On May 9, the New Straits Times highlighted a survey on the domestic market which revealed that many patients were being made to pay exorbitant prices for their medicines.

It was found that drug prices in Malaysia were far above the international reference pricing, a guide on how much medicines should cost.