KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — The government has reportedly cancelled plans to centralise the purchasing of RM500 million worth of medicines across Ministry of Health (MOH), army, and public university hospitals this year.
StarBiz, citing UOB Kay Hian Research, and Focus Malaysia reported that the government will likely instead open tender in the fourth quarter of the year for the supply of drugs to public hospitals. The awarding of the contracts is expected to take an additional year.
StarBiz also reported increased competition for government contracts among local generic producers, such as Pharmaniaga Bhd and Duopharma Biotech Bhd.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng from the then-Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration announced during the tabling of Budget 2020 last October that MOH, the Defence Ministry, and the Education Ministry would engage in pool procurement for half a billion ringgit worth of medicines to generate savings from bulk purchase.
Treatments listed on the MOH Medicines Formulary, also known as the “Blue Book”, are provided for and funded by the government in MOH health facilities, though not all patients are guaranteed access to these drugs when certain medicines run out of stock. Army, university and private hospitals have their own individual formularies.
Cancer advocates said previously that pool purchasing would bring more original medicines into public facilities at cheaper prices.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba and MOH secretary-general Chen Chaw Min did not respond to requests for comment at the time of writing.