Health Ministry Mulls Medicine Price Control Models

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad isn’t rushing into a decision.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The Health Ministry is considering several mechanisms to regulate the price of medicines, but won’t implement them hastily, Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

The health minister said the ministry’s deliberation on various drug price control measures came after consulting stakeholders like local and international pharmaceutical companies, private hospitals, and pharmacies.

“We are now at a stage where we’re finalising various mechanisms,” Dzulkefly told reporters in Kuala Selangor last Saturday after launching a National Eye Health Awareness event.

“This is a new policy and we need to be cautious. While we want good in controlling medicines, we don’t want any unintended side effects.

“Therefore, I will not rush into a decision. But it’s more important for me to engage everyone.”

Drug makers, clinic general practitioners, pharmacies, and private hospitals have all opposed Pakatan Harapan’s plan to introduce price ceilings for medicines.

The Health Ministry will use external reference pricing to determine maximum wholesale prices for medicines in Malaysia by benchmarking the prices of drugs sold in other countries, but the ministry has not stated which countries would be referenced, or how price mark-ups for retailers (private clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals) would be calculated.

The proposed drug price ceilings will be imposed under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 that punishes profiteering, and selling and buying goods outside the regulated price with a maximum RM500,000 fine for companies, and for individuals, a maximum RM100,000 fine and three years’ jail. This law is under the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry’s jurisdiction.

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