Business News of Friday, 9 November 2012

Source: thebftonline

NHIA ready to review drugs prices

The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has indicated that it will soon meet with pharmaceutical manufacturers to review prices of drugs covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Mr. Kwabena Asante, General Secretary of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana (PMAG), told the B&FT that the Authority has indicated its preparedness to review the price list.

“We have been in touch and they have indicated that they are prepared to meet us [PMAG] so as to discuss the reviewing of the price list.”

Drug manufacturers in June complained about the unwillingness of the government to review the prices of medications covered under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The prices are supposed to be reviewed every six months, but have seen no change in two years.

PMAG has also tabled proposals to the government for total VAT exemption on selected raw materials imported for pharmaceuticals production.

Presently, there is a zero VAT rate for 66 of about 200 different materials used for manufacturing drugs locally. However, even where the zero VAT rate exists, there is often a lengthy bureaucratic procedure involved in reclaiming VAT payments, Mr. Asante said.

There is also lingering concern about local pharmaceutical manufacturers’ inability to benefit from a “marginal preference” scheme targeted at local drug producers who bid for government contracts.

The marginal preference scheme provides a 15% discount on bidding fees to local pharmaceutical manufacturers. The system, however, presents challenges mainly because of producers’ inability to qualify for bidding.

PMAG has further advocated a fund to support the industry using savings from malaria medicines that the government currently purchases at subsidised prices under a financing initiative of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria.