Ministry mulls controlling drug prices at private hospitals

11 Nov 2019 / 16:50 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is in the midst of looking for a mechanism for the control of prices of medicines at private hospitals and clinics.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad (pix) says his ministry is still discussing the issue of expensive drug prices in private healthcare facilities with the relevant stakeholders.

“The ministry knows that the private sector uses patented drugs compared to generic ones that are cheaper,” he said in response to a supplementary question in the Dewan Rakyat here today.

Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Malacca) had asked about the ministry’s effort to tackle the high cost of medication at private facilities even if the patient is equipped with medical cards and insurance.

Khoo added those who seek treatment at public hospitals for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure would only be given enough medication for about two weeks and this is troubling patients who have to go for bi-weekly follow-up appointments.

He also asked if it would be possible for government hospitals to prescribe a three-month supply of medication for such patients.

To this, Dzulkefly said long term prescriptions would hinder government hospital doctors from monitoring their patients’ conditions.

“On prescribing medication, whether for one month or three, it cannot be delayed or prescribed for too long. What’s important is that the medication is given, and usually for free,” he said.

Dzulkefly stressed frequent follow-up appointments are required for doctors to monitor their patients’ condition, and that those who are unable to attend appointments can opt for other ways of renewing their prescriptions including having their medication delivered by post.

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