Govt still studying drug price control for private sector, says minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad says his ministry is still discussing the control of drug prices at private hospitals and clinics with the relevant stakeholders.

He said they are looking into the use of a mechanism to overcome the issue of expensive medication at private healthcare facilities.

“We are also aware that the private sector likes to use original or patented drugs compared to generic ones that are cheaper,” he said in response to a supplementary question in the Dewan Rakyat here today.

Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) had asked about the ministry’s initiatives to tackle the cost of medication at private facilities, calling it a burden even on patients with medical cards or insurance.

Khoo also said those who seek treatment at public hospitals for chronic illnesses such as diabetes or high blood pressure would only be given enough medication for about two weeks. He said it was burdensome for patients to have to go for biweekly follow-up appointments.

He also asked if it would be possible for government hospitals to prescribe a three-month supply of medication for such patients.

But Dzulkefly said long-term prescriptions at this point would cause problems for doctors in monitoring and controlling their patients’ conditions and compliance with medication.

“On giving medication, whether for one month or three, these are all in the policy,” he added.

“Sometimes it cannot be too long. What’s important is that the medication is given, and usually for free.”

He added that frequent follow-up appointments are necessary for doctors to monitor their patients’ condition, and that those who are unable to attend appointments can opt for other ways of renewing their prescriptions including having their medication delivered by post.