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Vietnam drug prices reasonable - health minister

Thuy Dung
Friday,  Jun 16,2017,23:38 (GMT+7)
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Vietnam drug prices reasonable - health minister

Thuy Dung

Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (L, front row) is grilled at the NA session on Wednesday - PHOTO: NA

HANOI – Prices of Vietnamese-made drugs are lower than in six middle-income countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said on June 14.

Speaking a Q&A session at the National Assembly, she rolled out measures to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare services, control medicine prices, cope with chronic overload at hospitals, and better the work environment for health workers, especially in rural areas.

Deputy Trinh Ngoc Phuong of Tay Ninh Province said certain drugs in Vietnam are costlier than in neighboring countries. Other NA deputies also voiced their concerns over high drug prices, and asked the health minister to find ways to solve this problem.

However, Minister Tien said the drug market in Vietnam is stable and prices are reasonable. In the basket of items used to calculate the consumer price index (CPI), drugs rank ninth in terms of price rise, she said, this means no strong price volatility.

She stressed, according to evaluations by independent organizations, prices of brand-name drugs for cancer treatment are 10% lower than in six middle-income ASEAN countries.

Regarding the recent medical examination and treatment price adjustments, Duong Tan Quan, a NA member of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province asked whether these price rises would lead to an improvement of service quality or just protect the health insurance fund from going bust due to overspending.

Deputy Nguyen Thi Phuc of Hung Yen Province said she was worried about the growing abuse of the health insurance fund and asked whether the health minister had any solutions.

Tien explained the hospital fee hikes would help increase the quality of services and the incomes of health workers which are currently low. They would also reduce the pressure from direct costs and wages on the State budget, she added.

Data shows the State has saved a staggering VND10 trillion in the healthcare sector, she said.

In a bid to deal with the abuse of the health insurance fund, she said, medical examination and treatment procedures will be monitored more closely. The ministry plans to impose a spending ceiling on insured patients, which she admitted would affect the benefits of honest patients.

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