public health

Duterte signs EOs creating OFW Hospital, regulating price of key medicines

Duterte signs EOs creating OFW Hospital, regulating price of key medicines

CHRISTMAS RUSH. Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers start arriving for the holiday season, at the NAIA on December 1, 2021. Inoue Jaena/Rappler


The OFW Hospital will rise in San Fernando, Pampanga

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte signed two executive orders designed to make affordable health treatment more accessible – one regulating prices of medicines for major diseases and the other creating a hospital for Filipino migrant workers or overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

EO 154 orders the national government to set up an OFW Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga, to “cater primarily to the healthcare needs of OFWs and qualified dependents.”

“We consider the establishment of this specialty hospital devoted to OFWs as a long overdue recognition of the valuable contribution of Filipino migrant workers to the economy and to the nation,” said Acting Presidential Spokesman and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles on Tuesday, December 7.

The OFW Hospital is also supposed to promote, underwrite, and publish research on health concerns of migrant workers, including biological, demographc, social, economic, eugenic, physiological aspects of occupational disorders of OFWS.

Another role of the medical facility is to train health professionals and social workers to implement occupational health services for OFWs.

In charge of establishing and incorporating the hospital is an Inter-Agency Committee on the OFW Hospital chaired by the labor secretary and co-chaired by the health secretary.

Its members are the budget secretary, administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and two representatives of land-based and sea-based OFWs.

Keeping key medicines affordable

EO 155, meanwhile, signed by Duterte on Tuesday, aims to regulate the prices of key drugs and medicines by imposing a price cap on drug molecules and drug formulas used to make them. (The full list with prices is at the end of this article.)

The presidential order imposes a maximum retail price and maximum wholesale price on 34 drug molecules and 71 drug formulas used for medicines that treat diseases that are the leading cause of death in the country.

These include agents affecting bone metabolism, analgesics, anesthetics, anti-angina, antiarrhythmics, anti-asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease medicines, antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, antidiabetic drugs, antidiuretics, and antiemetics.

The EO also covers drug molecules and formulas utilized in anti-glaucoma, anti-hypercholesterolemia medicines, antihypertensive medicines, anti-neoplastic or anti-cancer medicines, anti-Parkinsons drugs, drugs for overactive bladders, growth hormone inhibitors, immunosuppressant drugs, iron chelating agents, and psoriasis, seborrhea, and ichthyosis medicines.

Manufacturers, importers, and retailers of these drugs are required to “display the retail price which shall not exceed the MRP.”

The display is specific. The maximum retail price must be written down after the words “RETAIL PRICE NOT TO EXCEED” and “UNDER DRUG PRICE REGULATION” on a red strip. It should be on the label of the immediate container of the drug and medicine.

Here is the list of covered drug molecules and formula with their maximum prices: