The Philippine government is introducing new measures aimed at expanding the country's drug distribution network and increasing both the access and affordability of high-standard medicines. In the Philippines, 90% of drug sales go through pharmacies and prices are often prohibitively high. There are numerous small neighbourhood stores that sell affordable drugs,but these often tend to be of low quality or even counterfeit.
Under new plans, the government will help entrepreneurs establish more "Botika ng Bayan" (BNB) outlets. BNBs are small private drug stores that sell cheap, high-standard generics and branded medicines purchased by the government. Currently, there are 687 BNBs in the country, with the authorities hoping to raise this figure to between 2,000 and 3,000 by the end of next year.
Medicine prices in the Philippines are among the highest in the world and have grown at an average annual rate of 15% over the past five years. Due to a lack of drug price regulations other than market competition, imported raw materials have also become more expensive. The proposed plans include helping smaller drug manufacturers gain access to cheap raw materials. This will help ensure a supply of low-cost medicines to the BNBs.