Brand names in the Philippines have been found to be 5 to 30 times more expensive than similar brand names of similar manufacturers in India and Pakistan. This is the strongest factor that impelled the government to institute a parallel drug importation policy under the Cheaper Medicines Program. (Tables 1 and 2)
The trend is not improving. In fact, it is worsening, at least until after the imposition of the Government Mediated Access Price in 2010.
As Table 3 shows, the ratio of local median prices to international reference prices, especially for innovator (or originator) brands, in both public and private sectors, rose in most of the past decade. Indeed, the ratios of Philippine price to India price for all the four branded drugs considered in Figure 1 rose from 2004 to 2010.
Gains have been achieved in the production and consumption of generic drugs, following the enactment of the Generics Act in 1988.
In the first-ever Generics Summit held in September 2008, as many as 28 generic-drug companies were given quality seals for good manufacturing practices. The number of good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant firms has since increased to 53, though a larger number of firms continues to operate without having yet complied with GMP standards.
Nonetheless, the larger firms manufacturing prescription drugs now meet GMP standards.
Today, it is claimed that 5 to 6 out of 10 Filipinos now purchase generic drugs. As Table 4 shows, an increasing proportion of Filipinos are buying cheaper generic drugs and the proportion of households that did not buy medicines (for any reason) has declined significantly.
The Department of Health has mandated all government health workers to use only generic terminologies in drug purchasing, prescribing, dispensing and reimbursement. Reports indicate that generic manufacturers now sell at prices 55 to 80 percent lower than their branded counterparts.
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