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Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go on the high cost of medicines and drug security

Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go
Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go on generic
medicines and drug security

 06 July 2011 - The Department of Health and our local hospitals are procuring generic medicines at triple their international prices, a travesty in the Philippines where a majority have barely any access to health services. Looking into the reasons behind their own research results, the Health Action International (HAI) finds that while medicines might be sold in the country at comparatively cheaper rates, many reasons make it almost the norm to have even more expensive medicines here: from the procurement of unnecessary branded medicines to outright corruption in the procurement process. There are also the questions surrounding generic medicines.

According to Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go, CDM core faculty member and executive director of the AIM-Zuellig Center asserts that in fact "What we know of as generic medicines in the Philippines are not technically generic medicines," where sometimes the what's called generic medicines are actually "off-patent medicines with no bioequivalence comparison within acceptable limits to the originator brands" which makes them, in the end, "mere copies" instead of generics.

Dr. Hartigan-Go further notes that the lack of control in the pricing of medicines is borne of the country's lack of drug-security, where it is dependent on imports and as such has no control over pricing. In the end, Philippine prices might include "transport cost, landing cost, and taxes imposed by various government agencies" even when these are not explicitly articulated.

As far as Dr. Hartigan-Go is concerned, there are ways to respond to the rising prices of medicines in the country, including the creation of better market competition by improving local generic medicine production, the establishment of efficient logistical procurement systems, forging partnerships with foreign multilateral agencies for technical assistance, enjoining local investment for staff training, and creating public awareness about "true quality essential medicines."

Lastly, Dr. Hartigan-Go sees it as crucial that the government begin "negotiating for better pricing abroad, through bulk procurement and better estimates of the need for essential medicines.”

Click here to read the full article "RP at the pharmacy" written by Katrina Paola B. Alvarez in Business World Online, 03 July 2011.


Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go is core faculty member of the Center for Development Management and Executive Director of the Asian Institute of Management-Dr. Stephen Zuellig Center for Asian Business Transformation.


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