LEADING POLITICIANS SLAM PRICE OF PHARMACEUTICALS IN THE PHILIPPINES

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The price of pharmaceuticals in the Philippines has been criticised as "excessive" by leading politicians in the country. They went on to claim that with the current 10% VAT level for pharmaceuticals, this problem was unlikely to improve in the near future.

The Philippines ranks 126th out of the 191 countries in terms of levels of health, according to a recent study by the Philippines Department of Health. This means that less than 30% of the population has regular access to essential medicines. Drug prices are relatively unregulated in the country and, as a result, are unaffordable for the majority of the population.

Some market observers have bitterly criticised a "cartel" of multinational drugmakers, which they claim are forcing prices to remain high. Others blame a drastic lack of supply. The country's complete reliance on imported raw material for drug production also extenuates the situation, as does the relatively low demand for generics.

Recent government efforts to increase drug access have included helping smaller drugmakers gain access to cheap Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) and increasing the numbers of "Botika ng Bayan" (BNB) outlets. BNBs are small private drug stores that sell cheap generics and branded drugs supplied by the government.