MEDICINE is essential for the sick or injured, and can be a matter of life and death. It is not an ordinary commodity but a necessity for survival or recovery. However, access to life-saving medicines can face the barrier of affordability because, unfortunately, medicine pricing in Malaysia is currently totally unregulated.
A 2019 study by Universiti Malaya revealed that 72% of cancer patients experienced financial catastrophe during the first year of treatment in private hospitals, while one-third of households became impoverished. Cancer medicines are very well known to have exorbitant price tags, and mark-ups by private hospitals on originator drugs (median = 51%) and generic drugs (median = 166.9%) are also well-studied. Affordable medicines are challenging if we leave it entirely to the market.