Health Ministry hoping to impose medicine price controls this year

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters at the Malaysian Healthcare Conference 2019 in Kuala Lumpur March 7, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters at the Malaysian Healthcare Conference 2019 in Kuala Lumpur March 7, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

PUTRAJAYA, April 2 — The Health Ministry today expressed plans to regulate drug prices by this year, but did not specify how exactly it would do so.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad held a closed-door town hall meeting with pharmaceutical stakeholders this afternoon, the first such engagement between the industry and the ministry.

“Yes,” Dzulkefly told a press conference here after the town hall, when asked if price control measures for medicines would be implemented this year.

“There are various mechanisms. We don’t want to rush into this.”

Dzulkefly reportedly told Parliament last November that his ministry was considering price ceilings to streamline drug prices and improve access to affordable medicines.

The minister told the press that he met representatives from the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA), the Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI), and the Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS) at today’s town hall to discuss drug procurement and price controls in medicine.

“It was a comprehensive discussion,” said Dzulkefly.

“We have decided to follow up, maybe create a focus group between the private sector and the Ministry of Health.”

He added that the ministry would also meet up with other stakeholders from the pharmaceutical supply chain, like hospitals, clinics, and community pharmacies.

“The general perception is that the pharmaceutical industry is profit-driven, but we heard a commitment to be with the government and to have public-private collaborations to enhance health care delivery [that is] quality, affordable, and accessible, for the B40 (bottom 40 per cent) especially,” said Dzulkefly.

He also said the pharmaceutical sector was strategic as companies invested hundreds of millions of ringgit in Malaysia, created high-paying jobs, and supplied medicines during disasters.

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