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Health Minister: Medicine prices remain stable

Released at: 15:10, 15/06/2017

Health Minister: Medicine prices remain stable

Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien. Photo: Tuoitre.vn

Minister of Health fields questions on medicine prices from NA delegates during Q&A session on June 14.

by Luong Nhi

Prices for medicine in Vietnam are stable and not high, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien told a Q&A session of the National Assembly (NA) on June 14.

Health organizations around the world have assessed that the price of brand-name drugs in Vietnam is 10 per cent lower than in other ASEAN countries, she added. The only brand-name drugs with high prices will see their copyright expire soon, after which the ministry will organize a bidding process.

When NA delegates pointed out that 90 per cent of pharmacies can sell medicine without a prescription from a doctor, she said it was a weakness of the ministry and that it has only 300 inspectors in the country.

However, when asked about disorderly medicine prices and the fact that sometimes the price of imports was higher than the retail price, Minister Tien said that, while true and wrong, retail prices at pharmacies are managed well.

To better manage medicine, the ministry is working with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and Vietnam Social Security to amend the Bidding Law to enhance transparency and economic efficiency in medicine bidding.

According to a report from the Health Strategy and Policy Institute in 2011, which used methods of the World Health Organization, the price of international nonproprietary name (INN) medicine that win bids in Vietnam is lower than the average price in the world. Moreover, the price of brand-name drugs that win bids are in the mid-range internationally.

Regarding the differences in medicine prices in cities and provinces, Minister Tien said that, currently, there are 56 cities and provinces organizing bids at the local level and they have different conditions in transport, distance, and number of orders, resulting in prices being different. Such differences, she explained, are not remarkable.

She committed to improving stipulations on bidding for brand-name drugs and to conduct more administrative procedure reform in medicine bidding to save costs and manage medicine prices better.

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