04 November 2004


Most physicians will agree that the art of healing might improve if prices of pharmaceutical drugs were lower. As it is, doctors prescribe medicines, but do not really know if patients buy them or finish the prescribed course advised.

As such, sick patients do not get well as they should. Some patients, especially in infectious cases, when antibiotic course should span a 7- to 10-day period, deceive themselves and will often settle for a short 3- to 4-day course that guarantees them short-term savings, but long-term bankruptcy. Why so? Because a short-term antibiotic course promotes antimicrobial resistance. Next time they get sick with the same infection, it will be tougher and yes...more expensive to treat. They can even get hospitalized. And we all know how hospitals make your pockets bleed.

I am not here to blame patients who tend to save money by cutting on their prescription courses. No. It's human to save during times like these. Rather, I would like to know if a compromise can be achieved wherein patient and doctor are both happy. This means patient gets well and physician feels good that he was able to help the patient get well.

The option I'm thinking though will not make drug companies happy. But as Sassy said a year ago:
"Drug companies will not put public health ahead of profits. They never did; they never will. That was the very reason they fought tooth and nail against the passage of the Generics Law of 1988."
If that's the case, then let's make them cut prices. Let's make them realize that there is such a term as public health and that it needs to be addressed. At all times.

Where am I getting my idea?

I came across this news item early this morning:

The NHS drugs bill will be slashed by £1.8 billion over the next five years under a deal announced by the Government today. Pharmaceutical firms have dropped their prices by 7 percent in the face of a tough stance by Department of Health negotiators.

(Health) Minister Rosie Winterton said in a written Parliamentary statement that the money would be put into frontline services. Smaller drug firms have said they will be unfairly hit by the cut, which will hamper innovation.

But Ms Winterton said: "It is important that we continue to encourage the pharmaceutical industry in its first-class research and development work to deliver new and improved medicines for patients.

The cut in the price of branded prescription medicines has been agreed as part of a new pharmaceutical price regulation scheme (PPRS). The voluntary agreement with the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industries sets a limit on the level of profits.
[ Scotsman.com]


Did you see the key phrases: pharmaceutical price regulation scheme and a limit on the level of profits?

Why not do it here? Why can't the Department of Health (DOH) with the support of the government also set a compromise agreement with our drug companies here to set a limit on their profit levels?

Sure, sure, I've read Health Secretary Dayrit's flamboyant speech of achievements and how he likened himself to Hercules. I know how he imperiously claimed to have reduced by 50 percent prices of drugs through parallel importation.

I strongly suggest you read his claims and tell me if they are indeed true.

If prices of drugs are indeed low, why are patients still complaining?

I can cite a litany of drug prices that ought to be lowered, but this post would be crammed if I do so. C'mon, you know what I'm talking about.

Lowering drug prices is just one face of the medicine problem here in the Philippines. There are others like the 20 percent drug discounts of senior citizens which NOT ALL pharmacies enforce, limited access, and lack of information.

Read this and know what I'm talking about.

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