Sep 202014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/03/09MANILA468.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANILA468
2009-03-05 05:50
2011-08-30 01:44
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO0159
OO RUEHCHI RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHPB
DE RUHML #0468/01 0640550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 050550Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3389
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEAWJB/USDOJ WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000468

STATE FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/EP, AND EEB/TPP/IPE
STATE PASS USTR FOR BWEISEL, RBAE AND KEHLERS
STATE ALSO PASS USAID, OPIC
TREASURY FOR OASIA
USDOC FOR 4430/ITA/MAC
USDOC PASS USPTO
BANGKOK FOR JENNIFER NESS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ETRD EINV ECON RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES CLOSER TO DRUG PRICE CONTROLS

REF: 08 MANILA 2611

MANILA 00000468 001.4 OF 002

¶1. (SBU) Summary. The Philippine Department of Health has listed 34
prescription medications that will be subjected to price controls
under the Cheaper Medicines Act (reftel) enacted last year. The
main impetus for the rapid imposition of price controls came from
advocacy groups and non-governmental organizations. Local
representatives of international drug companies participated in
consultations on maximum retail prices, but warn that some of the
controlled prices are lower than the costs of making the drugs,
which could force them to withdraw many drugs from the Philippine
market. End summary.

Health Department Chooses Drugs for Price Limits
——————————————— —

¶2. (SBU) With the passage last year of the Cheaper Quality
Affordable Medicines Act, and its implementing rules and regulations
now in effect, the Philippine Department of Health has begun listing
drugs and medicines subject to its price controls. According to the
Philippine Health Department, the meeting of any one of four grounds
may subject a drug to price controls. The first ground is that the
drug is at least four times as expensive in the Philippines as in
other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries.
Second, the drug has fewer than four generic versions. Third, the
original “innovator” brand must outsell generic versions. The
fourth is that a given drug is of “public health concern.”

¶3. (SBU) Over the past two weeks, the Department of Health has
produced a provisional list of 34 drugs that will be covered by
price controls. The Department indicated the final list will be
reduced to 25, and will be released by the end of March. As it
currently stands, the list Post obtained includes anti-diabetes
drugs, including insulin; cancer drugs; antibiotics; asthma and
blood pressure medications. We discussed the list with an assistant
to the Secretary of Health, who assured us that the listing has been
open and transparent and has included consultations with the
pharmaceutical industry. There will be at least one more hearing on
the list in which drug industry representatives are expected to
participate.

Drug Companies Part of Talks but Are Worried
——————————————–

¶4. (SBU) We met with several directors of the Pharmaceutical and
Health Association of the Philippines, the trade association of
foreign drug companies, who noted that the main impetus for the
rapid imposition of price controls came from advocacy groups and
non-governmental organizations. While the Association acknowledged
that it has been invited to consult with the Health Department, it
also noted that some member companies had not participated. The
Association is also concerned that the final list of drugs subject
to price control may contain more than 25 medications.

¶5. (SBU) In addition, the Association asserts that the Health
Department has been pressuring companies to sell drugs in small
packages that can retail for 100 pesos, or around USD 2, offering to
exempt such drugs from price controls. In many cases, this can
amount to a handful of tablets needed for one cycle of a course of
doses. Representatives of Pfizer warned us that for certain
antibiotics, small doses can promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria,
and claimed that it is being pressed to sell antibiotics that
currently cost over 1000 pesos for the 100-peso fixed price. Pfizer
said that if these price controls are put into effect, it will
withdraw many drugs from the Philippine market.

Comment
——-

¶6. (SBU) The Philippine press has recently featured stories noting
that drug prices have not fallen since the Cheaper Medicines Act
came into effect, creating pressure for more immediate action from
the government. However, the Philippine government must tread
carefully and should not ignore Pfizer’s warning that it could
withdraw many drugs from the Philippine market if price controls are
put into effect. Pfizer’s withdrawal of medicines from Thailand
following laws on compulsory licensing clearly demonstrates the
risks. Post will continue to remind Health Department officials
that expecting pharmaceutical companies to sell products for less
than it costs to produce them could prove counterproductive.

MANILA 00000468 002.3 OF 002

Kenney

   

 

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