Pharma offers Philippines a 50% price cut

Sound familiar? Big Pharma is offering to lower drug prices in the Philippines to circumvent government price controls. With officials on the verge of implementing a new pricing scheme for meds, drugmakers large and small pledged to cut prices on some 80 drugs by 50 percent on average. The cuts could reduce pharma sales there by up to $208 million annually.

Apparently the price reductions have mollified officials, who now say they'll consider putting a price ceiling on about six or seven products because those prices weren't cut enough. "We have to do what we need to do," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said (as quoted by Reuters). "I think they have been selling medicines in this country for such a high price compared to the other countries. So, they've generated hefty profits from the Filipinos for the longest time."

The fight over retail price ceilings has been long and bitter. Most recently, Filipino officials accused Pfizer of trying to bribe the government to stop the price controls; Pfizer denies the charges. At issue, apparently, is Pfizer's vigorous lobbying against the measure, which included an offer of 5 million discount cards worth more than $2 million.

Drugmakers, of course, have recently negotiated a cost-cutting deal in the U.S., hoping to forestall such price-eroding measures as drug reimportation and Medicare price negotiation.

- read the Reuters story
- see the article in the Inquirer