KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii welcomed the Cabinet’s decision to regulate medicine prices, but warned the government about inadvertent effects on small clinics and pharmacies.
The DAP lawmaker noted that mark ups of drugs in private hospitals were estimated to hit 117.4 per cent or even 900 per cent, while a report by professional services consulting firm AON has forecast 13.6 per cent medicine inflation in Malaysia this year.
“While in principle I am supportive of the move to introduce a price control mechanism, but it is also important to understand the complexity of the issue and that such policy implementation will not cause any unintended consequential effects, especially on the smaller clinics and pharmacies,” Dr Yii said in a statement.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said Tuesday that the Cabinet has approved medicine price controls that will be imposed through a regulation under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.
He told reporters that the Health Ministry would use external reference pricing to benchmark against cheaper drug prices in other countries. Price ceilings will then be set accordingly at the wholesale and retail points, be it at clinics, hospitals, or pharmacies.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has criticised the government’s decision to regulate medicine prices, saying that this would kill off private general practitioners (GP) practice as the Cabinet has also decided not to raise GPs’ consultation fees that have remained stagnant since 1992.
Dr Yii urged the government to be transparent about its proposed price control mechanism.
“The mechanism has to be transparent to make sure the ‘ceiling price’ properly reflects the changing economy on top of other factors such as cost effectiveness analysis from the government per item, and also the GDP and income level of the people,” he said.
The Sarawak lawmaker also told drug wholesalers to be transparent about their profits and their arrangements with manufacturers.
“That is why I welcome the Health Ministry’s decision to seek further feedback and consultations with the pharmaceutical industry to discuss the price control mechanism. We must ensure the readiness of the industry, and whether all stakeholders have been engaged and their concerns have been properly listened to.”