Saturday, September 29, 2007

Essential Medications for All

I met a young physician yesterday who has his heart set on producing safe and effective generic medications for the 80% of the population who are unable to purchase medications for hypertension, diabetes, asthma, peptic ulcer disease and infectious diseases.

Throughout the campaign, I had advocated for Filipinos producing their own medications. Why resort to importation from other nations when we can produce these drugs in our own country? Most people are not aware that drug prices in the Philippines are more expensive anywhere in Asia except for Japan. This is because we Filipinos have very little say when it comes to multinational drug companies dictating prices. Here in our country, drug companies are reaping great profits essentially because they can get away with it . Our government does not encourage competition and would rather let the majority of our people go without their essential medications rather than tangle with the wealthy and powerful drug industry. In no way is this an indictment of pharmaceutical companies because these entities are simply pursuing their stated business goals which is to manufacture quality products and realize as much profit that is possible. It is a miserable reflection of our weakness that we have always appeared powerless to determine our destiny.

Medications do not have to be as expensive as they are in our country. Even if we still have to import all the raw materials needed to compound these drugs, the actual cost of producing these drugs is relatively negligible, for example:
Celebrex: 100 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27 Cost of general active ingredients: $ 0.60 Percent markup: 21,712%
Claritin: 1 0 mg Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71 Percent markup: 30,306%
Keflex: 250 mg Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39 Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88 Percent markup: 8,372%
Lipitor: 20 mg Consumer Price (100 tablets): $272.37 Cost of general active ingredients: $5.80 Percent markup: 4,696%
Norvasc: < /I>10 mg Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14 Percent markup: 134,493%
Paxil: 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27 Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60 Percent markup: 2,898%
Prevacid: 30 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77 Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01 Percent markup: 34,136%
Prilosec: 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97 Cost of general active ingredients $0.52 Percent markup: 69,417%
Prozac: 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11 Percent markup: 224,973%
Tenormin: 50 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13 Percent markup: 80,362%
Vasotec: 10 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20 Percent markup: 51,185%
Xanax: 1 mg Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79 Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024 Percent markup: 569,958%
Zestril: 20 mg Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89Cost of general active ingredients $3.20Percent markup: 2,809
Zithromax: 600 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19 Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78 Percent markup: 7,892%
Zocor: /B 40 mg Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27 Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63 Percent markup: 4,059%
Zoloft: 50 mgConsumer price: $206.87Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75 Percent markup: 11,821%

because once we stop subsidizing enormous marketing expenses (which includes the vast amounts of money spent convincing prescribers to stay with brand names and not give generics the opportunity to prove themselves) and immorally immense profits, we can expect a steep price drop.

This young doctor is the research director of a start-up company that will produce, or more accurately compound raw material originating in Europe to make antihypertensive like amlodipine and losartan; drugs for diabetes like metformin; antibiotics like cefuroxime and even anti-obesity agents like orlsitat. In no way am I endorsing his company. I would like to give him the opportunity however to prove to all of us that a local company can produce effective, safe and affordable medications. They are already very busy warding off several legal challenges and conforming to expensive government regulatory procedures. This is the least we Filipino physicians can do, give these entrepreneurs a chance to profitably capitalize on a perennial problem that will benefit the greater good.

25 comments:

Pete said...

There are actually cheaper branded generic equivalents for most of the popularly prescribed drugs that are off patents already. I wrote branded because even though they are generic versions already yet they carry a brand name. I guess through marketing studies generic makers have noticed that pinoy prefers their medications to have fancy names.Examples are the following ; Enalapril Maleate(Hypace)20 Pesos/20mg, Losartan(Lifezar)20 Pesos/50mg, Simvastatin(Afordel) 20 Pesos/20mg.The 20 Pesos Price is Plus and Minus 2 Pesos.

iloveadobo said...

Have you seen "Sicko" by Michael Moore? It was shown in the film that medicine in the U.S. are grossly overpriced compared to, say, Cuba.

It's an eye opener, that documentary is.

Martin D. Bautista, M.D. said...

yes but the poorest patients here are never without essential antibiotics, anti-TB meds, anti-hypertensives, vaccinations because the government will provide these for them if the need arises. which is why there are hardly any TB deaths here. here in the US, the health budget is 21.4%, while we allocated 1.1% to healthcare in the 2007 budget! wonder why healthcare hardly exists in our poor country?

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Les said...

Yes, there are generic alternatives...supposedly available at the drugstores. However, the latest "trick" these monopolies employ is to make sure that the cheaper generics are just "OUT OF STOCK".. always! (and I mean ALL branches). Thus leaving you with no choice... either get the branded more expensive one or go without your medication

Case in Point: I have been trying to buy Olmesartan Medoxomil for my high blood pressure due to sleep Apnea which costs P18.50 each tab.. but it's never avail. The only thing they always have is the other more expensive one (about P50 @)Does anyone know of other generic equivalent? How Much? and where I can get it?
Thanks much! pls send any replies to: leslesaca@hotmail.com

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