While it is true that the Government must be more proactive in managing health-care costs ("Govt's duty to ensure health-care affordability" by Mrs Charis Mun; last Saturday), the suggestion that it should buy drugs in bulk to sell to medical practitioners and institutions is not feasible.
The Monthly Index of Medical Specialities Singapore directory that doctors use, listing all drugs that can be prescribed here, has thousands of entries from an array of manufacturers.
It is impossible for any party, including the Government, to buy all these drugs in bulk.
In fact, no practitioner stocks more than a small percentage of what is available in the market.
Insurance companies control costs by specifying that, where generic drugs exist, "original equipment manufacturer" drugs must not be used, or if used, then insurance would cover only what their far cheaper generic versions would have cost.
Costs are reined in but the quality of care suffers if doctors can use only generic drugs.
When the authorities mandated the removal of fee guidelines for doctors, it led to avarice. Strangely, the call for the Government to now specify a price range for each drug runs counter to competition laws.
Shouldn't policies be consistent across the board?
Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)
This article was first published on September 30, 2014.
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