Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Drug Price Control 51, Pharma efficiency and lower drug prices

I reviewed again two reports (below) featuring LKI and my friend Vic Dimagiba. I think Vic – and many other NGOs – may be confused as consumer advocates. The main “vested interest” of consumers is more choices. Like there is a P10 coffee in a carinderia, P20 coffee in 711 and MiniStop, P150 to P250 coffee in Starbucks or CBTL, etc. It is not the desire of consumers that the P150 coffee be price-controlled by DTI or LGUs to become P50 or P20 so that it becomes “affordable” for the masa. No. Consumers have other desires and interests why they chose the P150+ coffee, like being in a business meeting that can possibly give them thousands of pesos in extra income.

The same for medicines. The main interest of patients and their families is to avoid sickness, and to get well fast when they get sick. An “expensive” medicine but can hasten recovery so that the person can quickly go back to work and earn more is actually cheap. While a “cheap” or even “free” medicine but is less effective in quick recovery is actually expensive because it does not help the person to go back to work earlier.

Getting “cheap” medicine per se is often the goal of people and NGOs wanting to be in the news often, disconnected from the real needs of various patients with various priorities in life.

Meanwhile, I got this data from the Phil. Statistics Authority (PSA), Survey of Establishments in Manufacturing 2018, the latest survey available. It shows here that the number of pharma manufacturers have declined (-5.6%) from 2012 to 2018, should be a result of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or smaller companies going bankrupt with endless price intervention by the DOH. But overall revenues have increased 27%, employment increased 3.4%, output value increased 41.5%.

This means that the remaining or surviving manufacturers have become more efficient to produce more output from less input. Such increase in efficiency results in lower prices overall. I have gum infection a month ago, my dentist gave me pain reliever on top of antibiotics Augmentin. The branded pain reliever was P31/tablet at Mercury, I bought few. The pain continued after 2 or 3 days, I went to TGP and asked for the generic drug, the lady gave me a P1/tablet but about half the mg of the tablet from Mercury. Still very cheap, I shook my head in disbelief and happiness.

Transparency in bidding pushed 
October 13, 2020

Vic Dimagiba, convenor of the Laban Konsyumer Inc. in a statement made this call as the Department of Health (DOH ), the Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) are crafting a joint administrative order (JAO) setting the guidelines on price negotiation under the planned consolidated single-sourced procurement of medicines and devices….

According to Dimagiba, PCC has a key role to play in ensuring the pharmaceutical industry, as the proponents of the the bulk procurement, do not manipulate the outcome of a bidding process through collusion.

LKI wants higher retail price cuts of medicines 
Published November 23, 2020, 7:00 AM
by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

“Consumer advocacy group LKI said there is not much difference between the proposed retail prices versus the prevailing retail prices of these medicines.

“We have been paying for many years grossly overpriced medicines whether with patent or off patent,” said LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba.”

See also:
Drug Price Control 48, DOH orientation on MWP, MRP, June 30, 2020 
Drug Price Control 49, The FEF statement, July 24, 2020 
Drug Price Control 50, Wallace, Clarete and LKI, August 08, 2020.

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