Malaysia’s Health Minister. Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad, announced recently that the government was drafting a proposal to control the prices of drugs in the country. This medication pricing mechanism would guarantee that access to medicine is affordable for all citizens.
What do pharmacy professionals think about it? How will it impact their patients? To find out, we ran a poll on SwipeRx, the largest social network of pharmacies and pharmacy professionals in Southeast Asia. We also took the opportunity to ask pharmacists about the use of medication samples across the practice. Scroll down to download our infographic.
Majority of patients very concerned about medication pricing
Out of 134 pharmacy professionals who responded to our poll, 95% reported that patients are very concerned about the price of medicine. According to a majority of respondents (55%), pricing is the main factor influencing patients decision in choosing generic brands. Other important factors influencing this decision are the efficacy of medication (23%) as well as the recommendations from healthcare professionals (12%). Interestingly, patients fail to request generic medicines 51% of the time. This can be explained by the lack of information provided by healthcare professionals as well as the lack of education and awareness that could give patients the tools to make more informed purchasing decisions.
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The cost of free drug samples
We asked pharmacists about the practice of distributing medication samples in the pharmacy setting. Medication samples have always been a hot issue due to the potential negative impact on patient health and safety and on healthcare costs in the country. Over 20% of our respondents declared that they have sold medication samples. Asked whether they have witnessed this practice among their peers, 56% of them declared having seen healthcare professionals sell free samples. Selling medication samples can help realize bigger margins while further reducing the price gap between generics and originators. This once again prevents patients from accessing cheaper medicine and calls for tougher medication pricing regulations.
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