Proposed medicine price control mechanism now in early stages, says Health Ministry


KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is in the early stages in preparing a proposal to control the prices of medicines though the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the proposed price control mechanism is to determine the ceiling price for consumers at all dispensary in line with international best practice standards.

"The move indirectly also standardises the prices of medicine and ensures that the access to medicine is affordable to the rakyat.

"The ministry is always concerned and takes care of the welfare of everyone, especially the lower income group as well as the industry players and medical practitioners in this matter," said Dr Dzulkefly in reply to Charles Santiago (PH-Klang) who asked about measures taken by the ministry to standardise the price of medicines in Malaysia.

Santiago also asked if the ministry intends to assist the local generic medicine industry as a step towards cheaper drug prices.

Dr Dzulkefly said that the government also helps the local generic medicine industry, adding that his ministry always encourages efforts to use affordable generic medicine in the public sector by prioritising the ones manufactured locally.

He said that the procurement of medicines by the ministry is based on the principles of public accountability, best values, as well as open, fair and just competition.

The procurement of medicines by the ministry is done through open tender and the appointment of concession companies, based on existing regulations.

"The ministry is ready to support the local medicine industry and in fact prioritises the procurement of the locally manufactured generic medicines.

"The buying of medicine through import will be considered only when it is determined that (the particular medicine) cannot be sourced locally," he said.

Last year, Dr Dzulkefly said 53.6% of generic medicines were procured and from that, 50.3% were locally manufactured generic ones.

He added that priority was given to locally manufactured generic medicines but admitted that the prices can be a little higher as it is only produced for domestic use.

"The economies of scale cannot be reached so the prices (of locally produced generic medicines) cannot compete with generic medicines from overseas.

"Sometimes, the prices of local generic medicines are more expensive than the ones from overseas or even the innovator medicines themselves because the raw materials to produce the generic medicines are entirely imported.

"Now you see why it's difficult for the local generic drugs to compete because it doesn't have the have the export market," he added.

Dr Dzulkefly said currently there are 18 local companies producing generic medicines, and out of that, 10 are bumiputra owned companies.

He also said the government ensures that the locally produced generic medicines are efficient and safe.

"The generic industries here need to conduct two studies, one is the bio-equivalent studies, the other is bio-availability studies. These are important.

"So in other words, when the (locally produced) generic medicine are registered by the Drug Control Authority, its (quality) is the same as the innovator original medicine.

"This is because it has undergone the studies and therefore, the generic medicine is proven that is the same as the original medicine," he said.