Forum: Steps can be taken to help family physicians with medication costs

I agree with Dr Desmond Wai's comments on the issue of procuring cheaper drugs faced by family physician (FP) clinics (Can Govt help family physicians procure drugs for cheaper price?, May 23)

I have some suggestions.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) could play a key role to help contain the high medication cost by redistributing the drugs secured through tender to its panel of FP clinics.

For a start, it could target the common chronic medical conditions requiring high volume and common drugs. Examples of common chronic medical conditions are diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and respiratory problems.

The consolidated usage volume of these drugs in the public and private sector would inevitably lead to a much lower and competitive tender price. This would pave the way for a successful partnership with FP clinics in patient care.

This is now an age of digitalisation and artificial intelligence. Gone are the days when a large pool of personnel might be needed to manage the procurement and redistribution process.

Digital technology can be used to simplify complex processes.

To prevent potential abuse of redistributed drugs, MOH could develop a system in which participating FP clinic partners abide by guidelines of prescription prices. Top-up supplies could be managed by proof of drugs dispensed to patients.

MOH has proven its superb organisational capabilities in managing complex challenges like the emergency procurement of vaccines and related medical supplies for Covid-19 needs. I am sure it can break the barrier of high medication cost.

Lim Kok Keong

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