Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s announcement early this year that Executive Order No. 104, “Improving Access to Healthcare Through the Regulation of Prices in the Retail of Drugs and Medicines,” which sets the Maximum Retail Prices (MRP) of 87 medicines or 133 formulations, has already taken effect yesterday (Tuesday).
According to Duque, EO 104 provides economic relief to Filipinos by making life-saving medicines more affordable. The EO mandates 50% reduction on the prices of medicines for top burden diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, breast, colorectal and lung cancers, chronic kidney disease, and asthma / chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
“The DOH has always prioritized the health of every Filipinos in all its policies and decisions. This is amplified now, more than ever, to assist the public from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and protect the vulnerable from further impoverishment, ” Duque said.
With the MRP, a diabetic patient on daily insulin glulisine spending P 818.75 per pre-filled pen can now purchase his medication at P435.18. If he is a senior citizen, the law grants him a mandated 20% discount resulting in a final purchase price of PHP 336.14— almost 60 percent in price deduction.
According to the Health Chief, the DOH recognizes the economic impact of the pandemic to the business sector, including the pharmaceutical industry, brought about by the global and local disruptions of the supply chain, but the Department believes that there are other economic pathways to alleviate this concern.
Recently, the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued joint guidelines to ensure the unhampered operations of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, which include provision for exemptions from taxes and duties on importation and manufacturing of medical equipment, drugs, and supplies needed by the frontliners. This is in accordance to Republic Act No. 11469 or the “Bayanihan to Heal as One Act”
Meanwhile, the DOH committed to engaging patients and key players of the pharmaceutical sector in meaningful dialogues towards achieving Universal Healthcare and in finding a cure for COVID-19.
“We thank the industry as they continue to stand with the Government and Filipinos in ensuring continued access to medicines despite the unprecedented challenge of the current pandemic. It is never easy, but together we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to weather this storm, sharing risks and burdens for the greater public good. In the spirit of Bayanihan, let us not turn our backs on our patients but continue to strive towards providing Filipinos the quality of life they deserve,” Duque concluded. /Stacy Ang