Monday, June 29, 2009

An explosion of drug stores

Last week June 25, I dropped by Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, after my meeting at the DENR office not far from that hospital.

What amazed me was the huge number of pharmacies and drug stores in front of the hospital. I counted 16 total! Front-right of the hospital, 7: FGG generics, Maia's, Buy Low, Neslen, Aurora, D'Calidad, and Cyprus. Front-left of the hospital, 6: Roslin, REM Citimed, Urduja, St. Vincent, Pong's, The Generics. Beside the hospital, to its left, 2: Mercury and another Roslin drug store. And within the compound is the hospital pharmacy.

Surely the patients of that hospital have a wide range of options of where to buy their medicines cheaply. I think that with this stiff and fierce competition among different drugstores and pharmacies, medicine prices should be generally low.

The next question is whether all the medicines sold in those different drugstores are safe and real, not the counterfeit, sub-standard and unsafe ones. How would patients know? Not a bit, almost. Unlike a fake bag or shoes or DVD, fake drugs are difficult to discover if one is an average consumer.

Nonetheless, one goal of the cheaper medicines law, of having cheaper medicines, is partially achieved by having a stiff competition among different drug stores and pharmacies.

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