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LETTER | Kudos to govt over drug pricing transparency issue

LETTER | The Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) strongly support the recent initiative by the prime minister, the National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol) and Health Ministry to increase the transparency of drug pricing by displaying medicine prices to the public.

MPS believes the objective behind such an initiative will benefit the public, as they will know the prices that need to be paid and their ability to make a choice will empower the public to take control of their health and cost of living.

For many years, the pharmacy profession has been at the forefront of such price transparency to the public.

Pharmacists and community pharmacies have long provided patients with clear and concise information about medication costs.

This enduring commitment underscores the importance of accessibility and transparency in healthcare, further reinforcing society's stand to empower patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

In the recent public engagement by the Health Ministry with stakeholders, MPS stated that by providing clear and accessible pricing information via the display of medicine prices, patients can easily review the price of medicines, compare costs between providers, choose the most affordable option, and effectively manage their healthcare expenses.

Empowering consumers

All in all, the display of medicine prices will give the public control over their cost of living and improve access to healthcare.

This is consistent with Pillar 3 of the Health White Paper for Malaysia, which is to ensure the population receives comprehensive services that are affordable.

In addition, MPS also believes that patients need to be empowered to know the medications they have been prescribed.

Therefore, in the interest of transparency, we continue to ask for the implementation of mandatory prescription writing so that patients will have a written record of the medications prescribed.

Also important for transparency is the proper labelling of medications dispensed and itemised billing of payments made by the patient.

MPS advocates for insurance providers to cover medicine purchases from pharmacies to ensure equitable access to essential healthcare services.

By extending insurance coverage to pharmacy-bought medications, patients can afford prescribed treatments, promoting adherence and overall health outcomes.

Access to medicines is a key component of the National Medicines Policy that has been in place since 2007.

This proactive approach fosters a collaborative healthcare ecosystem - strengthening partnership between pharmacists, insurance providers and patients, ultimately improving public health and the cost of living.

As such, we believe the government urgently needs to put a national health financing scheme in place that brings both the government and private healthcare sectors together to provide the best possible healthcare to the public with the most effective use of resources available.

We end this by reiterating our support towards the display of pricing for medicines and price transparency.

It is unfortunate that some parties in the recent engagement were against this policy and the MPS believes that any objections to this by any party go against the interest and well-being of the public and the government’s effort to manage the cost of living.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.