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  • Useful DOH Site Compares Prices of Generic Vs Branded Medicine

    We tested it out for ourselves and was surprised by the potential savings
    by Jillianne E. Castillo .
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.

  • Back track to around this time last year, the Department of Health (DOH) launched Drug Price Watch (dpw.doh.gov.ph), a website that allowed users to find (based on location) and compare drug prices from different pharmacies. Its aim was to guide consumers to make informed decisions when buying medicine.

    “Through this website, the consumers are being empowered with information to choose affordable and quality medicines in accordance to their needs,” said former Health Secretary Janette Garin.

    It’s able to do this using Republic Act 9502 or An Act Providing for Cheaper and Quality Medicines that states pharmaceutical chains are required by law to upload up-to-date prices of the drugs they carry on a monthly basis. The DOH takes the information and uses it to run the site. 

    Over 120 basic essential medicines are included in Drug Price Watch, according to Garin. Most notable is it includes both generic and branded medicine, showing just how huge the price difference can be between the two. As to the question of potency or effectiveness, generic medicine is just as effective as branded drugs, according to the DOH. 

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    September is Generics Awareness Month and to celebrate, we decided to test out a couple of drugs on Drug Price Watch. We ran common medicines and vitamins through the site. Some of the drugs we listed down weren’t on the site, however, like medicine for colds (Phenylephrine) and cough (Carbocisteine).

    We took what was left and here’s what we got. We have to say it's hard to ignore the potential savings. (Note: we used Manila, NCR, Philippines as location for all searches. Per DOH, your doctor is bound by law the Generics Act of 1988 to write down the available generic variety of a medicine he prescribes. You shouldn't be shy as well to ask your doctor for other options you may buy. )

    1. Paracetamol 

    Taken to relieve fever, mild aches, and pains

    120 mg/5 mL

    60 mL bottle, syrup

    Fevergan – P24.00

    Biogesic – P66.60
    Tempra – P91.50

    500 mg tablet

    Watsons Generic – P1.50

    Tempra Forte – P4.50

    2. Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C)

    500 mg tablet

    United Homes – P1.40
    Rhea – P1.50
    Watsons Generics – P1.50

    Tropicee – P5.50
    Poten-Cee – P8.00

    3. Mefenamic Acid
    Taken to treat moderate pain from conditions like arthritis and menstrual cramps

    500 mg tablet

    Watsons Generics – P3.00
    Ritemed – P4.50
    Pharex – P5.75

    Dolfenal – P24.50
    Gardan – P26.75
    Ponstan – P31.00

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    4. Salbutamol
    Taken to treat patients with asthma, bronchitis and other lung diseases by relieving cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and troubled breathing

    2 mg tablet

    Solben – P0.50
    Ventar – P2.25
    Ritemed – P2.50

    Ventolin – P8.75 

    5. Rosuvastin Calcium
    Taken to reduce the chances of developing heart disease and stroke that can be caused by high cholesterol

    20 mg tablet

    Robestar – P25.00

    Crestor – P85.00

    Buying generic medicine isn’t any different from buying branded ones. Check if the label includes the name of the drug, manufacturing date and expiration date. It should have also been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and the drugstore should be licensed by the same.

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