Health Secretary Enrique Ona announced Friday the implementation of price freeze on about 200 essential medicines to ensure their availability for thousands of super-typhoon Yolanda victims who are vulnerable to many diseases because of lack of food, clean water and the difficult conditions in typhoon-stricken areas.
“Securing the health and safety of the typhoon victims is an immediate priority of the DOH. We have to make sure that they have access to the medicines that they need and that public hospitals and government agencies are able to source affordable drugs to reach as many of our countrymen severely affected by this crisis,”said Ona.
The price freeze include essential drugs for physical and mental trauma and injury, diarrhea, pneumonia, skin diseases and other infections such as leptospirosis and other endemic diseases in affected areas.
The Department of Health is monitoring potential occurrence or possible outbreak of communicable diseases because of the lack of water and sanitation facilities as well as the non-functional state of primary health facilities in typhoon affected areas.
Other essential drugs covered by the price freeze include those that address common chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma likely to be aggravated by the anxiety and stress as well as the difficult conditions faced on a daily basis by the victims.
The Price Act (Republic Act 7581) mandates the DOH to automatically freeze the prices of essential drugs classified as basic commodities or impose maximum price ceilings particularly in times of calamities to protect consumers from profiteering, hoarding, cartels and other such violations by traders who may take advantage of the calamity situation.
Ona ordered the price freeze to be effective immediately in all public and private drug retail outlets nationwide including hospital pharmacies.
Consumers are encouraged to lodge complaints against any violation, as Ona warned drug manufacturers, traders and retailers to strictly implement the order.
The Health Secretary also clarified that a price freeze means that suppliers, pharmacies and hospitals should not unduly hike the prices of essential drugs from their prevailing prices before the occurrence of the calamity.
The DOH through the Order published both the Drug Price reference Index (DPRI) to impose a price ceiling in government bidding and procurement of medicines as well as Suggested Retail Prices (SRP) to guide consumers on the lowest cost quality generic drugs in private pharmacies.
All DOH regional directors were tasked to monitor the prices of essential drugs and make sure there is no overpricing especially in calamity-stricken areas. PNA