Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Medicines In the Philippines Are Expensive!

When I was on vacation last time, I have read on the brochure at Watsons that the medicines in the Philippines are the most expensive in Asia next to Japan. Well...I have the reason to believe this. Prior to working overseas, I don't have much idea about the prices of the medicines in the Philippines as compared to it's neighboring countries in Asia. What I'm only certain of is that Filipinos particularly those who are earning minimum and below minimum wages are struggling to provide health care to themselves and to their families because of the high cost of medicines.

When I began to work here, I realized and confirmed that medicines in the Philippines are really expensive. Before, I used to buy medicines in the Philippines and bring with me here after my vacation. Well...maybe because I'm scared to try other medicines which I'm not familiar of. One day, when I had a terrible migraine attack,I realized that I ran out of Dolfenal 500mg, the pain reliever that I used to take for my migraine problems. Feeling desperate, I went out of my room and tried to look for a drug store nearby. There, I was able to find exactly the same brand of medicine that I wanted to buy. I was fortunate that they are also selling Dolfenal 500mg, which is the one that I badly needed at the moment. When I asked the seller how much, I was shocked because the said medicine is less than half of the price as compared to buying it from my own native land. Imagine, I used to buy this medicine at about Php25++ per piece at leading drug stores in the Philippines and I was able to buy exactly the same brand at VND2K or less than Php5.00 per piece? Great, isn't it? Since then, I started to make a survey of the other medicines that I used to buy in the Philippines including those expensive brands like Buscopan, allergy medicines like Cetirizine and some anti fungal ointments and I found out that all of these are being sold at less than half of it's price in the Philippines. Even the medicines that my Mom used to take for her heart maintenance was also available here for a much cheaper price. In fact, I bought a pack of the said medicine which is good for 30 days consumption and I showed it to her Doctor and the Doctor said that it's exactly the same medicines that he prescribed to my Mom. He even attested to the fact that only one company is manufacturing and distributing said medicine worldwide.

So why is the price of the medicines in the Philippines is so high making it unaffordable for the Filipinos? Could it be that there is a monopoly of big foreign drug companies?

Another observation that I had was that medicines in Cambodia and Vietnam are not being advertised unlike in the Philippines that even the medicines for constipation and diarrhea have ads on TV, same as with anti fungal creams or ointments. Could it be the reason? Of course, they are paying ads on TV and it's quite expensive to run ads, so it might be that they are taking back the expenses incurred by increasing the price of the medicines.

Another thing that I observed was that whenever I bring my Mom to the clinic for her regular check up, there are times that we have to wait long at the Doctor's clinic because the Doctor had yet to meet up with some med reps who are promoting the medicines of their own respective drug companies. They are giving samples and incentives to Doctors which again add up to their marketing expenses and the burden goes to.... of course, the public.

Med reps I supposed, are also well compensated with all those attractive benefits and their job is to market their products. So I could see that from advertising to marketing and other promotional tools that those big drug companies are into, the only way to earn a substantial profit is to increase the price of the medicines in the market. Again, the victims are the consumers.

How is it going to be addressed? I think the government had already came up with the Cheaper Medicine Act and they are promoting the use of generic drugs. But still until this time, I am not satisfied. Because I still buy those medicines on the same price that I used to before.

Now, could you blame me if I have to resort to buying our medicines abroad?

When will the medicines in the Philippines be affordable to the Filipinos?

Well...your guess is as good as mine!


  1. Sobrang mahal nga talaga dito... Kaya nga hindi na halos umiinom ng vitamins mga pinoy kasi nga basic meds hindi na ma afford... Buti ka pa nga sis may chance ka dyan na makapili...

    Most of our vitamins at home mga padala lang din galing abroad kasi nga daw mas mura doon... Ang mahirap dito mas lalong hihirap. I hope magawan ng paraan ng gov't. ang concern na yan...

  2. OO nga Rovs! Kawawa yung mga wala talagang pambili ng gamot. Bawal talaga magkasakit sa Pinas. Mas angat tayo sa ibang bansa sa Asia pero di hamak na mas mura mga bilihin sa kanila.

  3. Mahal talaga mga medicine sa pinas kaya hanggat maaari e generic ang binibili namin at di yung branded.

  4. Thanks for your input on this Anney! Dapat nga siguro generics na lang talaga para makamura kahit papaano.

  5. ay naku, kaya nga bawal talaga magkasakit sa'tin dahil mahal ang magkasakit. hindi lang sa gamot pero sa healthcare in general :(

  6. Malaki talaga kinikita ng mga pharmaceutical companies sa Pinas. Yung iba bumibili dito sa India at nirerepack nalang nila tapos tatagain sa presyo samantalang binili nila ng barya sa ibang bansa. Sa India ang may pinaka murang presyo ng gamot, dito ang isang banig ng vit. c (branded) nsa P30+ lang (good for one month na inuman na un), promise!

  7. Agree ako kay Anney mas mura nga generic kesa sa branded. Kaso iyong nabili ko na one box pain pills para sa hubby ko last March nung umuwi ako nasayang lang hindi rin niya mainom kasi sobra ang side effects. Hindi ko lang alam bakit kasi same ingredients naman siya and brand nung tini-take niya dito. Try ko lang bumili sa atin kasi super mura compare dito. :-) Dito sa amin super mahal ng gamot and also healthcare :-/

  8. Same observation here, Krizza. Medicine is also cheaper here in KSA. My family in the Philippines have already switched to buying from pharmacies selling generic drugs. Mas mura kasi. However, some say that the quality may not be the same as the branded ones. I do wish that the multi-national companies' medicines would be more affordable but with all the advertising expense, the middlemen, etc? Ewan ko na lang.

  9. Mmmm never knew that the meds here are expensive, I thought they became cheap after the Republic Act. Thanks for sharing :) Hopping from Rovie's Blog :)

  10. @ KM, yeah that's true di affordable ang health care at meds sa Pinas.

    @ Strawberry Chocodahi, OO nga Sis actually nabasa ko din before mababa talaga mga meds sa India. Yung iba pala dyan nila binibili? Thanks for your input Sis!

  11. @ Sam D., you mean Sis may side effects pag generics? Di ba parehas ang effect nun sa branded meds? Thanks for sharing your experience, Sis. :)

    @ Chin, you see Sis, di lang pala sa other Asian countries mura and meds. Sa Pinas lang talaga sobrang mahal.

    @ Raine, Yup...expensive pa din meds sa Pinas. Thanks Sis for swinging by here...


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