Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Increased prices of medication reveal the growing disparity between wealthy and impoverished individuals in the Philippines.


By Patricia B. Mirasol, Reporter

26 year old female

Karen Nina Ibañez-Danao is a 26-year-old woman.

A homemaker who is 47 years old understands the high cost of life-saving medications.

In 2021, she began utilizing Arixtra, an injectable medication that inhibits the formation of blood clots, following a diagnosis of repeated strokes.

“I’m afraid it’s quite costly,” she stated in a Facebook Messenger conversation. “We ended up paying P60,000 for a two-week supply of Arixtra. We simply couldn’t afford to keep up with the treatment, so I began seeking donations and inquiring about more affordable options with my doctor.”

little bit stressed with everything that’s been happening.”

After two months, she changed to taking medication by mouth. She explained, “I didn’t want to constantly ask for donations for my medicine, especially with all the added stress we’ve been dealing with.”ff

Impacted by a global outbreak of coronavirus.

According to the Medicines, Technologies and Pharmaceutical Services program of the US Agency for International Development, as healthcare costs increase faster than economic growth globally, individuals in the Asia-Pacific area who do not have universal health coverage are still burdened with significant out-of-pocket expenses. These expenses make up approximately half of healthcare expenditures in these nations.

“In a report published in November 2022, it stated that controlling pharmaceutical costs is crucial in achieving universal health coverage, as pharmaceuticals account for 25% of total health spending and often make up a significant portion of out-of-pocket expenses.”

In the country of the Philippines, breast cancer patients face a significant financial burden as they require P450,000 to undergo 18 rounds of treatment. The costs of medicine and treatment continue to be a major hindrance in their journey towards recovery.

The main obstacle to obtaining medicine is its cost, as stated in a report published by Takeda, a pharmaceutical company based in Japan, in January.

Jorge G. Ignacio, a medical oncologist who was interviewed in the report, stated that the reason for this is not the lack of available options, but rather their exorbitant prices and lack of coverage by national insurance plans.

According to research by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), a government-funded research institution, senior citizens, female individuals, those living in rural areas, and low-income Filipinos are more prone to paying for their own healthcare expenses. The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) only covers 40% of hospital expenses.

Ms. Ibañez-Danao, who pays more than P30,000 each month for medication, claims that she does not receive any assistance from PhilHealth for her medicine costs.

According to Mr. Ignacio, the current age is one of precision treatments, as he is both the chairman of the Philippine General Hospital’s Cancer Institute.

We examine the genes and customize medications based on them.fit patients in a way that’s more eff

He mentioned that we will utilize medications that are effective through Zoom.

This could result in increased expenses for patients due to their more advanced technology.

He stated that chemotherapy is still the standard form of treatment.ff

Using targeted treatments can potentially lead to extended periods of remission and improved chances of survival.

The implementation of these new treatments is revealing the growing disparity between wealthy and impoverished Filipinos.

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Mr. Ignacio stated that the new medications will replace the existing ones.

“He expressed concern that only the wealthy will have the opportunity to live longer, which is a troubling thought. We cannot let this continue and must take action.”fi

There are various methods and strategies to close the divide.

PRICE CONTROLS

According to Roger M. Tumlos, the acting manager at the express mail exchange department of the Philippine Post, medications were one of the most frequently sent items via Philippine mail.ffice in Manila.

During the tour of the post office, he mentioned that his department’s responsibility is to detect and confiscate any prohibited items that may be present in the sorting process. He also noted that they often come across various types of medications, particularly those used for treating cancer, due to their high cost in this area.ffice.

The individual stated that these medications, primarily sourced from India and Pakistan, are distributed in accordance with permitted amounts.

Despite the availability of targeted therapies, the current state of affairs is an improvement compared to twenty years ago. During that time, Mr. Ignacio noted that only a small number of domestic companies in the field of oncology had control over pricing. However, he also acknowledged the role of the Generics Act of 1988 and the Universally Accessible Quality and Cheaper Medicines Act in reducing costs.

The doctor stated that the cost of Doxorubicin antibiotic per vial used to be P5,000. However, now you can buy a 50-milligram vial for only P800. Similarly, the price of Cyclophosphamide has decreased from P900 to P300.

Many of these medications have experienced a decrease in prices as a result of the decrease in…fl

Mr. Ignacio stated that the user experience of medications from India, South Korea, and Indonesia is positive.

The PHAP has been advocating against restrictions on medication prices. The Universal Health Care Act governs health-related products and services, including the cost of medications.

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According to PHAP Executive Director Teodoro B. Padilla, implementing effective competition policy remains the most effective approach for reducing drug prices, as stated in an email.

He stated that implementing price control measures can lead to postponements in the release of new medications and compels the removal of current products from the market.

According to Mr. Padilla, only a small portion of the 460 new medications introduced worldwide between 2012 and 2021 have been accessible in the Philippines, accounting for 13%.

“Aside from depriving patients access to newer, lifesaving therapies, price regulation also negatively impacts trade, and has a chilling eff

He stated that he would reflect on potential investors in the pharmaceutical industry.

fit package covers 70% of the cost for medicines

The physician stated that PhilHealth’s coverage for outpatient medication covers 70% of the total cost.fi

Mr. Padilla suggested that government funding for medications be increased in order to enhance the efficiency of the state hospital’s procurement process.

According to Mr. Padilla, countries with integrated access to medicine programs in all levels of healthcare have seen a decrease in out-of-pocket spending to below 50%. Examples of such countries are Australia at 47%, South Korea at 42%, and Thailand at 9%.

Additionally, he stated that this would aid in simplifying the evaluation procedure for medications eligible for government purchase and PhilHealth reimbursement.

“The effectiveness of bargaining for prices and collective purchasing, which are both outlined in the Universal Health Care Act, was demonstrated by the Health department’s previous success in reducing the cost of a cancer medication by at least 66% through bulk procurement,” he stated.

According to Mr. Ignacio, purchasing in bulk would allow oncology societies to negotiate for lower prices. The Department of Health already does this, and if it could be implemented for all medications, it could result in more affordable prices for these drugs.

Universal healthcare, which became a law in February 2019, “guarantees equitable access to affordable and quality health services.” It also aims to improve doctor-to-patient ratio, upgrade hospital bed capacities and equipment and set up more hospitals in remote areas.

The success of the program relies on a population that is in good health and able to pay taxes and PhilHealth insurance premiums. As a result, the Health department is prioritizing preventive care.

Mr. Ignacio stated that no single sector can reduce drug prices on its own. He emphasized the need for collaboration and stated that, if all parties work together, it is possible to alleviate this issue.