MoH resumes free meds scheme after ethics audit

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the Health Ministry has resumed pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance schemes, which provide costly new drugs to patients for free, after a national audit cleared the programme. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the Health Ministry has resumed pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance schemes, which provide costly new drugs to patients for free, after a national audit cleared the programme. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — The Health Ministry has resumed pharmaceutical companies’ patient assistance schemes, which provide costly new drugs to patients for free, after a national audit cleared the programme.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the National Audit Department had asked how the ministry would audit the “bonusing” part of the patient access scheme (PASc), in which the pharmaceutical company gives free drugs on top of a government’s purchase of medicines, like a buy 10 free two sale.

“So they raised this — how are we going to audit this? Anyway, we’ve gone through and they’re happy with our explanation,” Dr Lee told Malay Mail.

Dr Lee said the PASc had resumed since the end of last year after it was suspended in August, worrying patients at the time as possibly thousands of them rely on the scheme to get crucial but expensive drugs, especially for cancer and rare diseases.

The Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Programme put up forms for PASc proposal submissions on its website last week.