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23 May 2007
Medicine Prices in Indonesia Extremely High


The public buys medicine with a price that is actually higher than the standard price. This fact is rarely realized because the medicines are needed and the consumers are not given an option to use other medicines.

“Patients are often deceived,” said the Head of Indonesian Health Consumers Empowerment Foundation, Marius Widjajarta, in Jakarta yesterday (21/5).

According to Marius, the foundation he is leading has carried out a survey in 25 hospitals in Indonesia. The result is the costs expended by patients for medical devices and medicines reach 60 to 70 percent of the total cost. “This isn't natural. Patients should only spend 30 percent of the total cost for buying medicines,” he said.

Marius assumed that the ruse against patients is practiced by pharmaceutical companies and doctors who give the prescription. Pharmaceutical companies set a high price for medicines they produce. “The difference can be 200 percent of the generic medicines price,” he said.

It is very rare that patients refuse a prescription given by a doctor. In the meantime, doctors have a motive that patients buy the medicines they recommend. “Pharmaceutical companies give commissions to doctors. The commission is a reward as the doctors prescribe the medicines they produce,” said Marius.

This sham actually does not have to happen if the government's role in monitoring the labeling of medicines runs well. The government must also issue a regulation to determine the price of branded medicines.

Director General of Pharmaceutical Service and Medical Device Improvement at the Health Department, Richard Panjaitan, said that the government does not have the authority to determine the prices of branded medicines.

The government is only authorized to determine the prices of generic medicines to be consumed by the public. “For determining medicine’s price, a law is necessary. Now the draft is being composed by us,” he said.

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