New guidances issued by MOH for 11 drugs

The RFID drug delivery system at the Singapore General Hospital.
The RFID drug delivery system at the Singapore General Hospital.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) has published it its first tranche of 11 drug "guidances" to help doctors and patients pick proven drugs to treat their medical conditions, with information on available drug subsidy if any.

Of the 11 released on Wednesday (May 3), nine have subsidies which will cost the government millions of dollars a year.

The first tranche includes drugs to treat cancer, diabetes and stunted growth in children.

Information includes the clinical criteria for appropriate use and its cost effectiveness. For example, in the guidance for sumatriptan - for treating acute migraine attacks - it lists that the medication has superior clinical results in combination with naproxen, an anti-inflammatory drug. It also noted that a subsidy is available for the medication.

The MOH hopes that by sharing information on drugs that give value, it can help keep a lid on spiralling healthcare costs as the population ages.

The effectiveness of the drug is determined by the Agency for Care Effectiveness (ACE) which was set up for this purpose in 2015. Their task is to establish the relative value of new technologies and drugs to "equip policy makers with objective and credible evidence to guide decisions on healthcare treatments and subsidies" the MOH said.

The Drug Advisory Committee (DAC) would then decide on the amount of subsidy if any.

Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, who is the ministry's director of medical services said: "While medical technology has enabled us to live longer and better, such improvements have almost always resulted in rising healthcare costs.

"ACE's work is critical to enable the identification of treatments with good outcomes at affordable price points for our patients. This will help ensure that our healthcare system remains both effective as well as sustainable for future generations."

More such guidances will be issued in the future. For more information, go to: www.ace-hta.gov.sg.