ASEAN Member States Virtually Assemble in the recent Drug Price Transparency Workshop
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States, comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, convened in a two-day online workshop to ensure fair prices and effective financing of medicines and health technologies with the aim to fortify health systems and to achieve wider Universal Health Coverage on April 6-7, 2022.
In line with resolution WHA72.8, which was adopted in 2019 during the 72nd World Health Assembly on Improving the Transparency of Markets for Medicines, Vaccines, and Other Health Products, the virtual assembly urges Member States to take appropriate measures to publicly share information on the net prices of health products. It will also be a key step in improving price transparency at the global level despite the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
Having existing legal and policy frameworks on pharmaceutical pricing and access, and private markets that are made available to the public and mandating drug price control measures for high-cost medicines and in situations of public health emergencies were identified as Best Country Practices on Medicine Transparency by representatives from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. It was further noted during the focus group discussion that most ASEAN Member States have price information on the drugs that are publicly procured to guide their purchasing and negotiations with the industry and use the external reference pricing through benchmarking with ASEAN, India, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, internal reference pricing and tendering. The process signifies the need to guide the procurement at the country level.
“At a time where overall health is the priority, the workshop helps bring healthcare, including health products, closer to the masses, especially for our dear Filipinos. In pursuit of Universal Health Care in the country, aligned with WHA72.8, it is very much clear that transparency and knowledge of medicines, vaccines and other health technologies become all the more important,” said Health Undersecretary of the Public Health Services Team Maria Rosario Singh – Vergeire.
The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific and the WHO Philippines Country Office also graced the said event which was organized by the Department of Health – Pharmaceutical Division (DOH – PD) in coordination with the Bureau of International Health Cooperation (BIHC). Amidst the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the success of the workshop serves as a reminder that the collaboration of member states will continue to move forward by maximizing the use of various online platforms.
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