Drug price disclosure takes effect

Drug price disclosure takes effect

Internal trade officials check the prices of medical services at Vibhavadi Hospital in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Internal trade officials check the prices of medical services at Vibhavadi Hospital in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)

Starting on Thursday, 353 private hospitals have to display the prices of 3,000 drugs, as well as the fees for medical supplies and services, so that consumers can make better-informed decisions prior to receiving treatments.

There are 30,103 drugs on the Thai Medicine Terminology list. However, private hospitals are now required to display the prices of only 10% of them, mainly those widely used in emergency cases.

The stipulation is part of the Universal Coverage for Emergency Patients (Ucep) programme, which also requires that hospitals give patients an opportunity to buy drugs from pharmacies outside the hospital system by giving them prescriptions.

According to Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, and acting Commerce Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara inked the announcement of the Central Committee on Prices of Goods and Services on Wednesday.

Mr Whichai said a private hospital must display the price lists of drugs either on its website or via QR codes within 45 days after the effective date. Those who do not comply will be subjected to a fine not more than 10,000 baht and/or imprisonment not more than one year.

For prescriptions, private hospitals are required to first give them to all emergency patients and to all types of patients at a later stage. 

The prescriptions must give both trade and scientific names of the medicines. Failure to comply with the rule results in a five-year jail term and/or a fine of up to 100,000 baht.

According to Mr Whichai, private hospitals must also inform the Internal Trade Department in advance before raising their prices.

The Ucep programme also mandates compulsory emergency health care for up to 72 hours at any hospital in Thailand.

The scheme, which came into effect on April 1, 2017, enables those who require emergency medical care to receive treatment at nearest hospitals for a period of 72 hours for free.

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