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!
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