'Medicine prices in Malaysia will increase with Trans-Pacific pact'

'Medicine prices in Malaysia will increase with Trans-Pacific pact'

KUALA LUMPUR - The price of me­­di­­­cines - from antibiotics to cancer treatments - some of which went up due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will go up even more under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA), a doctors' association says.

The Muslim Doctors Association of Malaysia (Perdim) said GST plus the TPPA equalled a "double whammy" and that many consumers might not be able to cope with it.

Association president Datuk Dr Ahmad Shukri Ismail urged the Government to not agree to the TPPA, which is currently under negotiation.

Ahmad Shukri, the Barisan Nasional state assemblyman for Pulau Tawar, Pahang, said at a press conference: "We have to speak out about this because consumers are already bearing the brunt of so many price increases."

The association will hold its first annual general meeting on Aug 1 and has 955 members comprising Muslim general practitioners who work in private clinics and private hospitals.

Association deputy president Dr Mior Mohd Yusuf Adnan said about 80 per cent of medicines sold in Malaysia were generics, which meant prices would likely rise sharply under the TPPA.

The trade agreement would create strict curbs on the sale of gene­ric medicines as Western pharmaceutical companies seek to streng­then protection of their patents and intellectual property rights.

"It will be harder to obtain gene­ric medicines because under the TPPA, most of the medicine that will be sold will be 'genuine medicine'.

"Prices for all sorts of medicines, including antibiotics, for HIV, diabetic and cancer medication, will rise sharply if there are no generics available," said Mior.

More than 4,200 types of medicine have been exempted from GST but Ahmad Shukri said the association wanted to meet with the Customs Department to clarify on a number of issues.

"We don't understand for example why 500mg Panadol does not have GST while the 650mg dosage has the tax imposed," he said.

Ahmad Shukri suggested that a better formula was to impose a lower GST rate of 2 per cent on all medicine, as it would help lower the burden on consumers while still allowing the Government to collect revenue.

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