KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy supported the Health Ministry’s move to discontinue the decade-long concession to distribute pharmaceutical products to government health facilities and move to an open tender system.
Its chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) decision demonstrated Putrajaya’s commitment towards reforms in the public healthcare sector.
“The challenge now faced by the government is how to implement a smooth transition without causing massive disruption to the drugs and medicines being supplied under the Approved Product Purchase List (APPL) and the logistics framework for essential health supplies to the public healthcare system, in general,” he said in a statement.
“I have every confidence that it will be able to achieve this. It is wrong to imply that our healthcare system is too fragile and cannot survive without depending on one single company such as Pharmaniaga taking such a dominating role. The fact is that by opening up the tenders, the heavy responsibility of providing such mission-critical support can also be shared with other logistics service providers.”
Pharmaniaga has been the sole concessionaire for providing drugs and medical supplies to MOH for a decade. Its concession ends on November 30.
However, its services would be extended pending the Cabinet decision to ensure medical supplies and health services are not disrupted.
Despite others’ concerns, Azrul felt an open tender would encourage competition that would ultimately benefit Malaysians.
“Let’s not be afraid of competition and good governance. Pharmaniaga’s track record will undoubtedly put it at a significant advantage in a merit-based system. I have no doubt that this government-linked company will continue to play a major role in the Malaysian healthcare landscape for many years to come,” said Azrul.
“In the short term, the prices of existing drugs and medical supplies are unlikely to be significantly affected by this move. For this to happen, we need to also remove dependence on tender agents, acting as middlemen within the procurement process, who charge a commission for their services.
“Having an open tender, and allowing suppliers to negotiate and bid directly with the Government could potentially enable millions in public funds saved, lower prices, increase cost effectiveness and for newer therapies to be made available for patients,” he added.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad will present the matter for the Cabinet’s decision, with an eye for implementation within the first quarter of 2020.