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[e-drug] National Drug List Launched in Malaysia

E-drug: National Drug List Launched in Malaysia
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Ministry's list of drugs, prices
By Patrick Sennyah
Source: New Straits Times, 28 Jan. 2000


KUALA LUMPUR, Thurs. - A list of 615 drugs, carrying both their
generic and brand names as well as prices, is now available, making it
easier for patients to choose medicines within their budget.

The National Drugs List, prepared by the Health Ministry, provides
information on 358 medicines used for basic treatment and 257 drugs
for specific treatment.

Prices for all the drugs are provided in a separate book. The list will be
updated regularly.

The National Drugs List is available for reference at Government and
private hospitals and clinics, and will be on sale later this year. It will
also be on the Ministry's website.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng, who announced this today, said
this move is expected to bring down the cost of healthcare as well as
the country's medicines bill.

He said World Health Organisation reports noted that the prescription
of generic medicines brought down costs by 50 to 70 per cent.

Chua said all doctors were now urged to prescribe generic drugs and
not the branded types, but they would not be forced to do so. Private
hospitals and clinics have promised to co-operate on this.

With generic drugs available, patients can shop by checking the list of
brands available and the prices.

When contacted, the Malaysian Medical Association declined
comment as it was a "sensitive" matter. The major pharmaceutical
firms also refused comment.

Chua said the country's bill last year for Western drugs was RM1.4
billion, of which RM340 million worth was used by government
hospitals and clinics.

"The balance of 76 per cent was used by private hospitals and
clinics," he said, adding that this was high, given that 75 per cent of
the country's hospital beds were in government hospitals and clinics.

Chua said the provision of such information was recommended by the
World Health Organisation for the benefit of patients.

"Developed countries like the United States, Canada and several
European nations are already using generic drugs while insurance
companies there make it a policy to pay for generic medicines only,"
he said.

He also said the ministry's pharmaceutical division ensured that all
medicines met the necessary standards and there was no reason to
prefer branded medicines.

"There is no basis to the argument that branded medicines are better
than generic ones." 

Since 1983, the ministry had used a "Blue Book" of generic medicines
when prescribing drugs and to date, there has been no complaints
from patients. 

The Ministry had taken four years to prepare the list with the help of
private healthcare providers and related agencies.

More info: click http://prn.usm.my/essentia.html

Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
National Poison Center
Malaysia
e-mail: dzul@prn.usm.my


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