Hospitals accused of ‘overpricing’ COVID-19 drugs explain

Some hospitals summoned for alleged overpricing of remdesivir and charged advance payment before admitting COVID-19 patients appeared before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Among those who arrived at the NBI Special Action Unit office were staff from the City of Imus Doctors Hospital, Metro-North Medical Center, and St. Claire’s Medical Center.

Some admitted that they charged up to P15,000 for the vial of remdesivir, but that it was with the permission of the Department of Health (DOH).

“Meron kasing period ang DOH na in-allow na P15,000 ang price ceiling,” explained Ernesto Palomique III, lawyer of Metro North Medical Center.

One hospital also admitted that their drug prices had almost doubled, but they said they followed the DOH’s suggested retail price.

“‘Yung sa iba nga P20,000,” insisted Gerardo Roldan, lawyer of St. Claire’s Medical Center.

According to the NBI, they will further investigate whether what the hospitals are saying is consistent.

The DOH has issued three memos since September regarding the price of the drug and according to some hospitals, they have not received it.

Hospitals accused of ‘overpricing’ COVID-19 explain

“Kailangan makatanggap kami ng proof na hindi sila nakatanggap ng memo from DOH,” said NBI Special Action Unit executive officer Kristine dela Cruz.

In the most recent memo released by the DOH on April 5, 2021, the SRP of remdesivir ranged from P1,500 to P8,200.

The affidavit submits the summoned 6 hospitals.

Eight other hospitals are set to be summoned with the same complaint of overpricing.

Last month, the Department of Health also said it would also investigate reports of overpricing in remdesivir.

Dr. Anna Guerrero, chief of DOH pharmaceutical division, said patients are complaining that remdesivir costs as much as P27,000 when its price should range between P1,500 to P8,200 due to “fluctuating supply.”

“When we asked suppliers po…kasi imported po ito from India, hindi po ganun kataas so mukhang ang patong po talaga mga hospital,” she said.

(This is imported from India, the cost shouldn’t be too high, so it seems the price hike came from hospitals.)

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