Duterte signs order regulating drug prices

Pharmaceutical tablets and capsules are arranged on a table in this picture illustration taken in Ljubljana, Sept. 18, 2013. — REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday signed an executive order that would regulate the prices of more drugs and medicines that are used for the treatment of serious illnesses.

Executive Order (EO) No. 155 seeks to improve Filipinos’ access to affordable and quality medicines by imposing the maximum retail price (MRP) and/or maximum wholesale price (MWP) on other drugs “commonly used for the leading causes of morbidity in the country.”

Acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Alexei B. Nograles in a separate statement said the EO will cover 34 drug molecules and 71 drug formulas. These include agents affecting bone metabolism, analgesics, anesthetics, anti-angina, antiarrhythmics, anti-asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease medicines, antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, antidiabetic drugs, antidiuretics, and antiemetics.

“Also covered by the EO are drug molecules and formulas utilized in anti-glaucoma, anti-hypercholesterolemia medicines, antihypertensive medicines, anti-neoplastic/anti-cancer medicines, antiparkinsons drugs, drugs for overactive bladders, growth hormone inhibitors, immunosuppressant drugs, iron chelating agents, and psoriasis, seborrhea and ichthyosis medicines,” Mr. Nograles said.

For instance, a 10 milligram (mg) capsule of analgesic Oxycodone will have a proposed MWP of P75.68 and MRP of P117.

An 80 mg or 4 ml vial of Tocilizumab, an immunosuppressant drug, will have a proposed MWP of P6,440 and MRP of P9,032.81. This drug is also being used to treat patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

A 30 mg vial of the growth hormone inhibitor, Octreotide, will have a proposed MWP of P63,362.50 and MRP of P88,729.48.

Under the EO, the list of covered medicines and the corresponding prices should be reviewed by the Department of Health and Department of Trade and Industry six months from the implementation of the order, and every six months thereafter.

The Health department, Trade department and the Philippine Competition Commission were also tasked to study and propose measures that will influence the supply, demand and expenditure on drugs and medicines.

The EO also requires all manufacturers, importers, distributors, wholesalers, traders, and retailers to “display the retail price which shall not exceed the maximum retail price.”

“The MRP, preceded by the words “RETAIL PRICE NOT TO EXCEED,” and “UNDER DRUG PRICE REGULATION,” on a red strip, shall be clearly printed on the label of the immediate container of the drug and medicine and the minimum pack thereof offered for retail,” the order read.

Violations of the order shall be dealt with in accordance with Republic Act No. 9502 or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 and other related laws.

The order will take effect upon its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

“Within a non-extendable period of ninety (90) days from the effectivity of this Order, existing inventory stock shall be disposed of at prevailing prices,” the order read. “Thereafter, regardless of the status of the existing stock, the MRP and/or MWP under this order shall be strictly implemented.”

Mr. Duterte last year signed a similar order, which imposed MRP and MWP on 87 drug molecules and 133 formulas of selected drugs and medicines. — K.A.T. Atienza