Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm PRO to CMA

I'm for the Cheaper Medicines Act and this has nothing to do with Mar Roxas.

Availability and accessibility to medicines is crucial in any state, in any country, in any class. Medicines are life sustaining and life saving products; and I am not a happy camper if medicines are overpriced, which make it accessible only to people with excess money to burn. Medicine should not be priced as a luxury item. Pharma-companies shouldn't dictate the prices based on their specific customers' capabilities. Medicines are not exclusive to a specific market. It is not a product of preference.

Medicines are prescribed and not preferred. For example, a price tag of an LV bag might be a year's worth of savings. The prices may be too steep for majority, but I have never seen anyone picket in front of an LV store because the bags are TOO expensive. It's because LV already has a name in the world of fashion. It has a certain vision and has high standards of production to uphold, which make its products not attainable for everyone. At the same time, not everyone prefers an LV, much more could afford it. People won't die if they find out that they're not holding an LV bag while sick. At the same time that LV won't crumble if a large chunk of people would opt to buy a 500 pesos worth of bag. LV has studied its market and trend carefully to find justification on their prices. LV does not need to go on a mainstream flow to be cheaper in order to survive. They have fashionable loyalists. Louis Vuitton produce products of preference, not of need. This goes the same with the overpriced coffees at Starbuck's. Not all people appreciate the price that comes with a cup of regular coffee. Not all people even appreciate the taste, but Starbuck's has a power to jack up or retain prices because they adhere to a certain market, a loyal market that doesn't necessarily "need" their products to survive, but in truth just prefers it.

Most of us are aware that medicines here in the Philippines aren't wallet-friendly and it's a shame that we are branded in our region for tolerating these high prices. It took us this long and a couple of global economic meltdowns to realize that the government should be regulating the price of something so essential to all of its constituents regardless of class and location. Why did it take us this long? Economically speaking, the investor-country relationship tried to keep these issues under wraps, but information is out in the open and let's face it, we're not exactly a rich and a literally healthy nation either.

Based from the article I've read in, I've learned how bigwig pharmaceuticals try to monopolize and battle it out against the local companies that offer cheaper priced medicines. Mulinational pharma companies are able to monopolize and dictate prices of their newly developed medicine due to the so-called patent system. According to the agreement, they could monopolize a specific medicine for 20 years before the contract expires and that medicine could be mass produced. But apparently, what most pharma-companies do is they try to cling on to their sweet monopoly by making a "newer" version of the medicine. But new isn't exactly the term. They would just substitute ingredients or components, patent it and demand another 20 years to be able to monopolize and play with prices. Examining it closely in truth, the "new" medicine is just the same as the old one. They just substitute one or two ingredients, change the name and voila, they can instantly claim to have a "new" product. Now that's heartless.

I understand that profit in any company is a must, but according to reports and study already conducted by various sectors, these pharma companies already make sustainable profits to begin with. It has also been proven that some bigwig pharmaceuticals had the capability of cutting their prices in half when the generic versions came out in the market. This reflects a thin line that separates profit and greed. Where does the corporate social responsibility come in? In sponsoring marathon walks for a certain health cause? Why don't they start where it really matters like pricing their medicines reasonably and by following the proposed CMA by the government?

Lastly, I have a thing with Medical Representatives. I'm sorry, but are they really necessary? Do they really effectively promote or do their numbers and specific functions only contribute to the skyrocketing prices of our medicines? Just a thought. I bet some are not even considered reliable sources of knowledge about the medicine that they're selling. What they are just concerned about is to sell whenever, however to whomever they could. There is something shady about how the sales sectors across industries operate in this country. Certain perks and sales practices are sometimes doggone unreasonable. I believe other countries do not require hundreds of medical representatives in their work force forcing unimaginable negotiations and marketing. As far as I'm concerned, we're one of the few countries that employs too many. There should be more effective ways to market and more effect ways to utilize resources. I promise I'll keep mum if they prove that they do not contribute on how our medicines are unreasonably priced.

I really hope this CMA would be strongly implemented. This is an obvious step that any 3rd world country has to make. Personally, it's a relief paying for a 3 pesos worth of generic tablet than shelling out 11 pesos for a specific brand. I also hope this information gets out to most people that WE HAVE ALTERNATIVES.

It's always a comfort to know that trying to stay alive and healthy doesn't really have to be that expensive.

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