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Most Filipinos fail to complete medication—DoH

Posted on: March 12, 2010

Most Filipinos fail to complete medication—DoH

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:28:00 03/12/2010

Filed Under: Medicines, Health, Consumer Issues

MANILA, Philippines – Most Filipinos fail to complete their prescribed medication despite the availability of cheap generic and branded drugs, Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral said Friday.

Cabral said that Filipinos, once they feel well, would discontinue their medication.

“Most Filipinos are noted to discontinue taking the medicine when symptoms are gone, which might complicate their illness and cause a more expensive treatment when complications arise,” the health chief said.

In view of this, the Department of Health (DoH) relaunched on Friday its campaign promoting the use generic drugs and released the complete list of 200 branded maintenance medicines sold at government mediated prices, said Cabral.

Through the government mediated access price (GMAP) initiative, 100 medicines for hypertension, diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol, allergy and some anti-bacterial and anti-virals were sold at 50 percent off since August last year.

By March 31, 98 more medicines for bladder and prostate disorders, hepatitis, asthma, and dialysis solutions will be sold at half their prices, said Dr. Robert Louie So, program manager of the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management (NCPAM).

“Based on anecdotal reports collated by the health department, there have been no increased sales of the maintenance medicines that were being sold at 50 percent off via our GMAP initiative,” he noted.

“If that is the case, it means there has been no significant change in their treatment regimen and Filipinos are not taking advantage of availing medicines sold under GMAP,” So added.

“Our efforts to bring down prices of medicines through GMAP would be incomplete if people persist on not finishing their treatment. Moreover, not completing a treatment such as antibiotics leads to medicine resistance, which in turn would lead doctors to prescribe stronger dosages of antibiotic that may cost up to P1,000,” Cabral said.

So said that Filipinos still have low confidence on the use of maintenance medicines of the generics kind but stressed that generic drugs were cheaper and effective alternatives to the more expensive branded ones.

Maintenance medicines or those taken daily that have generic counterparts, when taken religiously, offer patients less complications and less risk for long-term and costly hospitalizations, said Cabral.

So cited as examples Hydrocortison Na succinate, a medicine for asthma, which could cost up to P1,190 per vial, which has a generic counterpart that costs only P261. Omeprazole, a maintenance medicine for ulcer patients, costs up to P139 per 20mg capsule but its generic counterpart sells for P28 each.

“Generics offer cheaper but effective alternatives for Filipinos. We should erase the misconception that a generic brand is less effective when compared to branded ones. In fact, big pharmaceutical companies have manufacturing arms for generics such as Winthrop for some Sanofi-manufactured drugs,” So explained.

“Medicine prices are going down in the country through GMAP and promotion of generics. Now, we look at compliance among Filipinos to complete their treatment regimen. Medicines are there to help us but they must be used correctly,” Cabral added.

Cabral also urged Filipinos to practice a healthy lifestyle, by having a balanced diet and daily exercise to promote wellness, which could help boost resistance against diseases.

As of posting time, statistics on how many Filipinos do not complete medication are unavailable, said So.

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