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Duterte issues EO expanding cheaper-medicines list

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By Prince Golez

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed Executive Order (EO) 104 that regulates the prices of select drugs including essential medicines most commonly prescribed to patients.

This was confirmed by Duterte’s longtime aide, Senator Christopher Go on Monday.

EO 104 imposes Maximum Retail Price (MRP) and Maximum Wholesale Price (MWP) on “select drugs and medicines totaling to 86 drug molecules or 133 drug formulas.”

Representatives from the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) were also directed to “convene and review” the prices of the remaining 36 drug molecules or 72 drug formulas previously proposed to be included in the MRP and MWP list.

In selecting which drugs and medicines to impose MRP and MWP on, Duterte stated the following criteria:

Drugs that address the health priorities of the general public especially those that account for the leading causes of morbidity and mortality;
Drugs that have high price differentials/arbitrage compared to international prices; Drugs that have limited competition in terms of lack of generic counterparts or lack of market access to these products; and
Drugs where the innovator product is the most expensive yet most prescribed and/or dispensed in the market.

Under the latest directive, the MRP will be imposed on all public and private retail outlets, including drugstores, hospitals and hospital pharmacies, health maintenance organizations, convenience stores, and supermarkets.

MWP, on one hand, will be imposed on all manufacturers, wholesalers, traders, and distributors.

Duterte signed the EO on February 17, 2020, in accordance with the provisions of RA 9502 or the Cheaper Medicines Act of 2008, which grants the President of the Philippines the power to impose maximum retail prices over drugs and medicines sold in the country, upon the recommendation of the DOH Secretary.

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