More Doctors Oppose Drug Price Controls Amid GP Fee Freeze

MMA past president Dr Ashok Philip warns the Health Ministry that GPs will be forced out of existence.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — More doctors have come out to protest the Cabinet’s decision to regulate medicine prices while keeping general practitioners’ (GPs) consultation fees stagnant at 1992 levels.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) past president Dr Ashok Philip said in a statement that hundreds of GP clinics have closed over the last five years, noting that most GPs could only make a small profit margin from selling medicine while their consultation fees remained static for 27 years.

“Now, to add insult to injury, the Health Ministry proposes to regulate drug prices too,” Dr Ashok wrote.

“The GPs, squeezed on both sides, will be forced out of existence. The private hospitals will manage because they have multiple miscellaneous fees which they can manipulate to maintain their margins. The GPs have no such recourse.”

CodeBlue reported Friday that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has decided not to match the RM10 to RM35 consultation fees for GPs operating shop lot practices with their hospital-based counterparts’ RM35 to RM125 rate.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad also said last week that the Cabinet has approved drug price controls, where price ceilings for medicines will be set at the wholesale and retail points, be it at clinics, hospitals, or pharmacies.

Dr Ashok expressed concern that many of Dzulkefly’s policies were recycled or renamed initiatives of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

“Doctors felt they were misguided then, and the new names do not change their feelings now.

“In the end, if the minister and his civil servants do not listen to the voice of the profession, the collapse of GP services will lead to a greater load on already overstretched government clinics, while those who can afford it will go and see specialists – which is a ridiculously uneconomical way to provide healthcare,” said the former head of the doctors’ group.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association Of Malaysia (MPCAM) vice president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said MPCAM has always supported drug price controls that should be imposed in tandem with the harmonisation of GPs’ consultation fees across the board.

“The Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) echoes the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) stand that privately-owned clinics could close shop if controls on drug prices come into effect, ignoring the harmonisation of the fee schedule of private general practitioners,” Dr Raj Kumar wrote.

“The MPCAM is concerned that it was not invited to partake in discussions leading to this development and urges the Cabinet to review its decision,” he said, adding that medicine price controls could “severely impact” Malaysia’s health care delivery.

You may also like