Medicines must be enough, affordable: Deputy PM

The ultimate goal of the development programme for domestic pharmaceutical industry is to ensure the sufficient supply of medicines at reasonable costs for the people, said Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam at a meeting held in Hanoi on September 21.

Dam asked the Health Ministry to hold periodic meetings and working sessions with pharmaceutical associations, businesses, ministries and agencies concerned to deal with specific issues, firstly helping amend the Pharmacy Law as soon as possible.

The Ministry of Health must completely handle the extension of drug registration while amending Circular No.30/2018/TT-BYT promulgating the list and payment requirements for pharmaceutical chemicals, biological products, radioactive drugs and those reserved for health insurance participants, which should be updated annually or in necessary cases.

In addition, the Vietnam Social Security must soon submit solutions aimed at dealing with the late payment for drugs and supplies covered by health insurance.

Director of the Drug Administration of Vietnam Vu Tuan Cuong said the pharmaceutical industry is on track to strong growth with a value of US$3.4 billion in 2015 to US$6.92 billion in 2021. Domestically-made drugs account for 46% of the total.

Vietnam is now home to 228 medicine production facilities meeting GMP-WHO standards, 14.3% of them fully automatic while 68% have automatic equipment that mainly produce generic medicines.

Policies and regulations have created favourable conditions for pharmaceutical industry, with incentives for investment in the production of hi-tech, treatment, invention, biological medicines, biological vaccines and medicine materials.

However, the establishments mostly focus on producing generic medicines because it takes much time, capital and quality workforce to churn out hi-tech, treatment and invented drugs. Statistics showed that invented drugs account for only 3% in volume but up to 22% in value.

Additionally, price negotiations and biddings for invented drugs remain slow due to the lack of reference information and price comparison.

Cuong asked the industry to focus on attracting investment in production technology and improving product quality, build research centres for vaccines and biological products, develop domestic materials, and improve the capacity of pharmaceutical research and testing.