DOH highlights efforts to promote use of generic medicine

The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday highlighted the major changes in the country's pharmaceutical market since the implementation of Republic Act 9502 or the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008.

“Generics now account for 65 percent of the total pharmaceutical market in terms of volume sales, whereas originator products account for only 35 percent of the total pharmaceutical market industry,” Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said in an interview during the 3rd Patient Forum on Access to Medicines, held at the DOH Convention Hall in Manila.

“When the Generics Law (Republic Act 6675) was enacted in 1988, we were at zero percent in terms of generic drugs sale,” Ubial recalled.

The law ensures an adequate supply of drugs with generic names at the lowest possible cost through the institutionalization of the National Drug Policy.

With the Cheaper Medicine Act of 2008, Ubial said the use of generic medicine rose from less than 40 percent to 65 percent at present.

She attributed the steady rise in the number of Filipinos turning to generic drugs to the entry of more generic players and the mushrooming of generic pharmacy chains.

However, she said the Philippines is still one of the countries in Asia where medicines are costly.

"Reducing out-of-pocket spending, particularly for medicines, is one of the legacies targeted under the Philippine Health Agenda. The current administration is determined to maximize the instruments provided in the law and undertake reforms to ensure that we bring prices down for consumers,” Ubial said, adding that they have formulated a seven-man council to review drug prices in the market.

The administration, she said, is also planning to revive the Botika ng Bayan to serve the drug needs of outpatients and augment PhilHealth benefits; centralize the purchase and procurement of essential drugs for all government health facilities; and develop economic zones in a bid to encourage foreign and local generics companies to put up manufacturing plants in the country for better competition and to assure the supply of affordable and quality generic medicine. (PNA)