Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 4, 2007

Made-in-Malaysia medicine ‘cheapest’

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:05 am

NST: Are Malaysian-made generic drugs among the most expensive in the world or the cheapest?
Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries vice-president Jimmy Piong said they were fairly priced and affordable to all Malaysians.
“Considering their quality and reliability, Malaysian-made medicines are among the cheapest in the world.”
This contradicts Universiti Sains Malaysia lecturer Dr Zaheer Ud Din Babar’s statement that doctors were marking up generic drug prices by an average of 316 per cent.
Dr Zaheer’s findings were in a 2005 survey published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine recently.
The study was conducted by University College Sedaya International and USM in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and Health Action International.
Dr Zaheer had said that doctors were marking up prices by up to 76 per cent for patented drugs, with pharmacies upping prices by up to 140 per cent for generic drugs and 38 per cent for patented ones.
Piong said medicine prices increased with margins added in the supply chain from production to the end-user.
He said products from Malaysian manufacturers at the top of the supply chain were not overpriced. “The value added, or margins, increase towards the end of the supply chain.”
He said generic medicines were always cheaper than patented medi- cines, the prices being determined by competition among the numerous generic manufacturers worldwide.
Patented medicine prices are monopolies and are determined solely by the brand or patent holder, whose interest is best served by higher prices.
Piong said healthcare professionals have an important role to play in the rational use of drugs and was crucial in ensuring, among other things, the affordability of medicines.
“If the public and healthcare professionals practice and promote the rational use of medicines, using cheaper generic versions or alternatives instead of more expensive branded or patented medicines, the cost of medication can be dramatically reduced.”
He said price control or capping of medicine prices warranted careful study, considering that medicines were essential and strategic commodities.
Health Ministry pharmaceutical services division director Datuk Che Mohd Zin Che Awang said the ministry would look for new ways to cut the prices of medicines.
“We cannot say for sure whether we will control the price of essential drugs, but we are trying to get the World Health Organisation to help us figure out ways to do it,” he said.

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