STROKE patients can now get their medicines for free from government hospitals.
The Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday said it is now giving out medicines for stroke patients.
“This alteplase medication will be provided by the DOH,” Dr. Eric Tayag, assistant secretary and spokesman of the DOH, said in a news briefing.
Alteplase is used to treat heart attacks (acute myocardial infarctions), strokes, chest pain at rest (unstable angina), blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary thrombosis or embolism), and other less common conditions involving blood clots. It is also used for clearing blood clots from blocked venous catheters.
Tayag said alteplase is ideally given in the first three hours upon onset of acute stroke or within the period of four-and-a-half hours after stroke.
It works by breaking down unwanted blood clots.
“Alteplase is truly a life-saving drug and every stroke patient eligible to receive it should have access to it,” the DOH official said.
“Only patients who have ischemic type of stroke, or those with blocked blood vessels in the brain, will benefit from this,” Tayag said.
He said before a patient can take alteplase, he or she has to be fully assessed to determine the period when the stroke happened.
The department allotted P30 million for the purchase of the medicine this year.
More than 1,000 stroke patients are expected to benefit from the free medical assistance program.
A vial of the drug costs about P30,000.
The 26 government hospitals where alteplase can be obtained for free are the:
East Avenue Medical Center; Philippine Heart Center; Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center; National Kidney and Transplant Institute; Quirino Memorial Medical Center; Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center; Philippine General Hospital; Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center; Mariano Marcos Memorial Medical Center; Cagayan Valley Medical Center; Southern Isabela General Hospital; Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital; Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center; Batangas Medical Center; Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital; Bicol Medical Center; Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital; Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital; Western Visayas Medical Center; Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center; Zamboanga City Medical Center; Cotabato Regional and Medical Center; Northern Mindanao Medical Center; Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Regional and Teaching Hospital; and Southern Philippines Medical Center.
Aside from the stroke medicine, maintenance medications are also being provided by the department for free.
Stroke or brain attack is an ailment caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually a clot.
In the Philippines, stroke is the second leading cause of deaths after heart attack, with a frequency rate of 55 per 100,000 Filipinos.