Reports state that the price of medicine in Malaysia is the highest in the region despite the fact that medicines imported into the country are non-taxable.
- Huge price gap between the government and private sectors currently and even higher than International Reference Price
- Meds price control will have strong impact on healthcare affordability
- MPS has long been fighting for some form of price control of medicines
Petaling Jaya, 8 March 2017: The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) has applauded and supports the recent call by the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) for the government to implement price controls on medicine, saying it must be done in the interest of the people.
MPS president Amrahi Buang congratulated the Pharmacy Services Division (PSD) and related pharmacy stakeholders for their efforts and colloboration with MyCC over the matter, saying that it would make a strong impact on the issue of affordability of healthcare for the rakyat since medicines were not mere commodities.
“MPS and other pharmacy stakeholders have worked alongside PSD in promoting affordability of medicines to the rakyat under the Malaysia National Medicine Policy.”
“Finally, after years of hard work and lobbying, we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel” he said in response to the the call by MyCC for an urgent need to implement price control on medicine.
MyCC Commisioner Professor Datuk Dr Sothi Rachagan said that currently, the price gap between the government and private sectors was huge and the prices were higher than the International Reference Price (IRP).
“The medicine prices purchased by the government is 1.3 times higher than the IRP while for the private sector, it is 2.9 times higher,” he said earlier this week.
Dr Sothi said with price control on medicine, the Health Ministry expenditure could be reduced as purchasing medicine takes a huge proportion of the total healthcare expenditure.
On Feb 18, 2015, MyCC has issued a guideline for Good Pharmaceutical Trade Practice specifying five things including a standard price and bonus scheme apply to all channels and healthcare providers.
However, the guideline has no mandatory effect on price control for medicine.
Commenting on this, Amrahi said guidelines for the Guidelines for the Good Pharmaceutical Trade Practice (GPTP) were put into place in February 2015 under the National Medicines Policy.
He said this was done after recommendations from all stakeholders with the objective of eradicating unhealthy practices such as price cutting, market monopoly, creation of artificial demand, unfair bonusing, discounts and rebates, bundling of unwanted medicine and inducement.
Asked how the GPTP factors into the price control agenda, Amrahi said: “The GPTP provides an even playing field for respective stakeholders. It benefits all parties especially the consumers.
“It has been reported that the price of medicine in Malaysia is the highest in the region despite the fact that medicines imported into the country are non-taxable,” he said.
Amrahi said although MPS has successfully lobbied the government to zero-rate GST for control medicine and are currently working towards zero-rate of all medicine under the “x” category, in line with the call by the Prime Minister to provide better healthcare and wellness for the rakyat, prices of medicine remain high.
MPS President Amrahi Buang said medicine price control is the next logical step forward in halting the escalating cost of health
“Therefore, price control is the next logical step forward in halting the escalating cost of health care and reducing out-of-pocket medicines expenses for the rakyat,” he pointed out.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “MPS has always been fighting for some form of price control of medicines in Malaysia.
“Our objective for doing so is inline with the MPS motto of ‘Berkhidmat Untuk Kesihatan Rakyat’.”
Amrahi said price control will reduce the burden of cost of medicines for needy patients, eliminate the element of price war in the market and reduce the potential of medical inducement by healthcare professionals and drug companies.
“Malaysians deserve to have the sanctity of the public healthcare system protected. If we do not address and correct the price discrepancies of medicines in Malaysia against the International Reference Price (IRP), we will lose this privilege that we have enjoyed for so many years.
In this respect, Amrahi said the government needs to act fast and push for medicine price control as soon as possible.