The enactment of the Universal Health Care bill will ensure all Filipinos will have access to quality and affordable medicines, a lawmaker said on Sunday.
“We are now a step closer to ensuring that every Filipino family will have access to health services without causing them financial hardship. One of the goals here is the free checkup and laboratory tests. This will also make medicines affordable,” Senator Juan Edgardo Angara said.
Angara is one of the authors and sponsors of Senate Bill No. 1896, which was approved on third and final reading last week.
Under Section 25 of the proposed measure, “drug outlets shall be required at all times to carry the generic equivalent of all drugs in the Primary Care Formulary.”
According to the Department of Health, generic medicines now account for 65 percent of the total pharmaceutical market in terms of volume sales.
The Generics Act of 1988, authored by Angara’s father, the late Senate President Edgardo Angara, requires doctors to prescribe generic drugs, which are 50 to 70 percent cheaper than their branded counterparts.
“Studies have shown that medicines in the Philippines are five to 30 times more expensive than those in other parts of Asia,” the younger Angara said.
At present, government health facilities across the country do their own procurement and price negotiation.
Because of this, different hospitals buy the same drug at different rates, and there have been instances where medicines are more expensive in certain provinces.
“To avoid disparities in medicine prices, a central procurement and price negotiation board is needed to guarantee the availability and affordability of medicines in all parts of the country,” Angara said.