Ang kalusugan ay karapatan ng bawat Pilipino. With this strong belief in the need to address the heavy burden of high medicine prices on the Filipino consumers, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the immediate implementation of a program that will improve public access to quality healthcare.
The Presyong Tama, Gamot Pampamilya program is government’s concrete response to this need. Through her active support, President Arroyo is the program’s staunchest advocate.
The program involved the importation of widely recognized, off-patent branded medicines which are usually prescribed for the most common ailments and diseases. These medicines shall be made available to Filipino consumers at very affordable prices.
Studies show that prices of medicines in the Philippines are as much as 10 times higher than in other Asian countries, next only to Japan. The program is an effort of the Arroyo Administration to lower the cost of healthcare in the country.
More specifically, the program’s objective is to ensure consumers get value for money by providing them better access to branded medicines of high quality at considerably lower prices. The parallel drug importation program is among the various tools identified by the government to push high medicine prices in the local market down to more reasonable and affordable levels.
What medicines are available?
There are currently 7 brands available in DOH retained hospitals nationwide. Beginning June 2002, this range has been expanded to a total of 26 brands from the following therapeutic categories - anti-bacterials, anti-hypertensives, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, oral hypoglycernic/anti-diabetes agents, anti-anginal agents, anti-cholesterol agents, bronchodilators, anti-mobility agents/anti-diarrheals, anti-psychotics, and anti-epileptics.
How much are the medicines?
Medicines sold through the program are from 23% to 84% cheaper compared to those sold in local drug stores, yet those are not subsidized prices.
To illustrate, Adalat Retard (Nifedipine) 20 mg, used as a maintenance medicine for hypertension now costs PhP 36.25 in drugstores. Under Presyong Tama, this will be PhP 5.75, or a savings per tablet of PhP 30.50 or 84%. Costs of medication will now be considerably lower and therefore more affordable.
Are the medicines really safe?
Medicines are sourced only from original manufacturers/multinational subsidiaries or authorized licensees and are of the same quality and efficacy as the higher-priced counterparts sold in local drugstores. To ensure the highest quality, medicines are tested by the drug regulatory agency in the source country before shipment to the Philippines. The Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) – the same agency that tests and approves the sale of medicines in the local retain market – also conducts its own rigid quality tests on the samples before these are shipped to the country.
Where are the medicines available?
Beginning July 2002, 76 DOH retained hospitals all over the country will begin selling these medicines to the public at the suggested retail prices found on individual labels.
As more local governments participate in the program, the distribution network will be expanded. Based on the current list of participating LGUs, it is expected that approximately 80 (at the provincial city and municipal levels) will be making Presyong Tama medicines available to the public by the second semester of the year.
Distribution is limited to government hospitals to ensure prices will be maintained and medicines will continue to be accessible to all. The government is guarding the program against any attempt to discredit it by having counterfeit or fake medicines sabotage the success of Presyong Tama.