MANILA, Philippines — Ahead of the May 9 election, almost all Filipinos believe it is the government’s responsibility to provide free medicine to patients who need it, new survey results from Social Weather Stations suggest.
In a statement sent to media, The SWS survey found that 78% of adult respondents said the government “definitely should” provide medicine to those who need it, while 17% said the government “probably should”.
The survey reported “ high preference of Filipinos” for free and subsidized drugs as the most useful ways to obtain drugs for a serious illness. He also noted a “very strong agreement” across demographics, ranging from net +89 to +98.
The SWS survey also found that among Filipino consumers, drug efficacy – or the drug’s ability to achieve the desired beneficial effect on a patient – is the most important attribute of a COVID-19 drug, followed by affordability, safety, accessibility and availability of supply.
Filipino Health Priorities
Respondents were also asked about issues that should be addressed to reduce or eliminate Filipinos’ high out-of-pocket expenses that families pay directly from their own healthcare savings.
Currently, P85 is paid out of pocket by Filipino families or shared by voluntary private insurance for every P100 spent on medicine.
“The country’s private share of drug spending is among the highest in the world with Malaysia (45%), South Korea (42%), New Zealand (32%) and Thailand (9%). ),” the statement read.
Medications are the number one health expense, followed by payment of doctors’ fees, laboratory fees and hospital room.
The main choices of “most useful means of obtaining medicine” were:
- “PhilHealth financial subsidy guaranteed to cover all or part of drug costs” (average score of 1.92, 1 being the highest)
- “Acquire drugs purchased by the government free of charge from public hospitals, health centers and public pharmacies” (1.97).
- “Pay the full cost of prescribed drugs in full at a reduced price” (2.91)
- “Pay the full cost of prescribed drugs in full first, and ask the government to reimburse the full amount later” (3.19).
The survey also named the most important areas where the government should work with pharmaceutical companies, including:
- “Dissemination of knowledge and understanding of health care” (2.79)
- “Solving the problems caused by the pandemic” (2.81)
- “Ensure the availability of drugs” (2.83)
- “Help make medicines free, or at least affordable and accessible” (3.14)
- “To undertake research and promote the development of new drugs in the country” (3.42)
Groups like the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, Medicines Transparency Alliance Philippines, Stratbase ADR Institute, UHC Watch and the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines have agreed that increased government investment in drugs is needed to improve its share of drug spending by just 15%.
The survey which was commissioned by PHAP and titled Filipino Preference on Access to Medicines and Partnerships with the Pharmaceutical Sector was conducted the week of December 12-16 last year among 1, 440 adult respondents nationwide, including 360 in Libra Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao.
The margins of sampling error are ±2.6% for national percentages and ±5.2% for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas and Mindanao.