Price Control may Impact Health Tourism Negatively

Medicine price regulations may affect Malaysia’s medical tourism, a group representing multinational pharmaceutical companies told the government.

“Medical health tourism is expected to reach RM1.8 billion by year-end, registering a 25 per cent growth. The growth is largely because patients from neighbouring countries seek treatment here, due to the relatively affordable and good private healthcare.”

“Our drugs are accessible. We have innovative medicines at affordable prices and I think the figure is a testament to that,” Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) president Chin Keat Chyuan told The Malaysian Reserve.

Drug price controls would impact patients’ experience, minimise treatment options, impede access to innovative medicines and reduce Malaysia’s attractiveness as a health tourism destination, he added.

Chin further said the Health Ministry was only zooming in at single-source drugs, large multinational companies and research and development-based firms, with its proposed drug price ceilings.

“It could pull foreign investors away.”

“We do acknowledge that there is up to 900 per cent markup at multiple-source drugs, but this is largely multiple or generic drugs,” Chin pointed out.

“Free market itself will regulate prices and there will be more options for the people.”

According to the Medicine Prices Monitoring 2017 report, the maximum price markup for generics sold in private hospitals reached a whopping 900 per cent, compared to a maximum 117 per cent price markup on originator drugs sold in the same facility. Across all private retail premises, the median price markups on medicines were 108 per cent for generics and 28 per cent for innovative drugs respectively.

The Health Ministry plans to use external reference pricing (ERP) to benchmark drug prices in Malaysia against seven to eight countries by choosing the average three lowest reference prices to determine the maximum medicine prices allowed here.

Price ceilings are proposed at both the wholesale and retail levels, with violations punished by fines or incarceration.

PhAMA has proposed a price transparency mechanism, where industry players will declare their wholesale prices and the government can compare the retail prices among players.

“By doing this, it will be easier for the government to determine which area has been marked up along the value chain. What we want from the government is to not rush their decision,” Chin said, in a bid to cancel proposed medicine price controls.

PhAMA went even further to advocate mandatory wholesale price declarations for all innovative and generic medicines available in Malaysia, beyond the 400 molecules targeted for price controls.

/Malaysia Reserve 04-11-2019

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