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DoH to use info-tech to monitor drug prices

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

THE Department of Health (DoH) will use the information highway to monitor prices of medicines sold in giant retail outlets.

Dr. Ariel Valencia, DoH regional director in Western Visayas, said they are about to complete the orientation of pharmacies on the Electronic-Essential Drugs Price Monitoring System (e-EDPMS).

The e-EDPMS provides a system and procedure for the data collection on prices of selected essential drugs.

The monitoring system requires pharmacies to use e-EDPMS computer software that is linked to the Bureau of Foods and Drugs (BFAD), DoH Information Management Service and Centers for Health Development around the country.

Data generated by the e-EDPMS will be uploaded daily to the EDPMS website at http://umis.doh.gov.ph/edpms.

The e-EDPMS is part of the National Drug Policy-Pharmaceutical Management Unit (NDP-PMU 50) or Pharma 50.

The Pharma 50 unit was established to operationalize, manage and monitor the implementation of all DOH initiatives, programs and projects, whose paramount objective is to achieve the reduction of the price of drugs and medicines.

Valencia said e-EDPMS will help the DoH keep track of prices of medicines, particularly the five molecules that are subject of mandatory drug retail price (MDRP) set by the Cheaper Medicines Law (CML) and its implementing rules and regulation.

Valencia said drug stores must follow the 50% slash in prices of medicines included in the MDRP list of the DoH.

The medicines covered by the MDRP include anti-hypertensives, anti-thrombotic, anti-diabetic/antihypoglycemic, and antibiotic/antibacterial.

“Big drug stores such as Mercury and Watsons have complied with the law already. Smaller pharmacies should talk with the main suppliers and manufacturers so they can get rebates for products they bought before the implementation of the law last August 15,” Valencia said.

Drugs stores with stocks bought before the implementation of the CML have until September 15 to fully comply with the law.

Valencia said consumers should report violators to the BFAD regional office with telephone number 3210204. He also advised consumers to keep receipts issued by drug stores as proof of their violations.

In Capiz, Jessie Contreras, Capiz Emmanuel Hospital (CEH) administrator, also urged consumers to keep receipts of their medicine purchases to help identify drugstores that don’t follow the CML.

Contreras, who is also the executive vice president of the Private Hospital Association of the Philippines (PHAP), complaints against erring drugstores maybe lodged with his office at the CEH.

“It is better that there are complaints so that I could bring these to Department of Health Secretary Duque during our PHAP meeting in Manila on Aug. 24,” Contreras said.

Contreras said pharmacies of Capiz-based private hospitals are compliant with Executive Order 821 which mandates a 50% cut on the prices of five essential medicines. (With reports from PIA-Capiz)

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