Mr Pavithran Vidyadharan asked the Government to consider providing subsidies for all medicine dispensed in public healthcare institutions, including non-standard drugs ("Review subsidy policy on non-standard drugs"; Forum Online, Sept 25).
Today, the Government provides up to 75 per cent subsidy to Singaporeans at polyclinics and subsidised specialist outpatient clinics in public hospitals for drugs on the Ministry of Health's (MOH) list of subsidised drugs (www.moh.gov.sg/drugsubsidy).
In addition, pioneers receive an extra 50 per cent subsidy off their subsidised medications.
The list of subsidised drugs, also known as standard drugs, is modelled after the World Health Organisation's essential drug list.
It is reviewed annually by a group of medical professionals on the Drug Advisory Committee (DAC), taking into account changes in clinical practice and medical advances.
Standard drugs are those that have been assessed by the DAC to be cost-effective and essential, and include expensive drugs for cancer and heart failure that are needed for specific clinical indications.
Similar to other jurisdictions, we are not able to subsidise all drugs in Singapore, as that will lead to an escalation of total healthcare costs, which will ultimately be borne by all Singaporeans.
Currently, standard drugs account for up to 90 per cent of the drugs used in the public healthcare institutions.
For patients who are assessed by their doctors to require non-standard drugs, subsidies for these drugs are available for lower- and middle-income patients under the Medication Assistance Fund (MAF). Patients can approach the hospital to apply for MAF subsidies.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Ministry of Health