In a press conference near Mater Dei hospital, Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said that in parliament it will propose legislation which will help ensure lower prices for medicinal products.
Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, said: “While health care services should remain free for everyone, in view of the demographic changes leading to an ageing population, it should be ensured that the health care system remains sustainable. We also believe that the national health care system should be based on the values of solidarity and social cohesion. The privatisation of the health care system not only sustains inequalities but also undermines the value of inclusiveness.”
“The public health care service should be supreme and should guarantee universal essential services. It should also guarantee that both state and private services are reaching the established standards. There should be a health centre open for twenty four hours in every district to provide for primary and emergency care”.
“The pharmacy of your choice (POYC) scheme should be extended so that patients benefiting from this scheme are not faced with the difficulty of out of stock medicine, and patients are granted the right to collect medicines from any pharmacy instead of the present centralised system where Government procures the lot itself. Government should refund pharmacies according to just and established pricing”.
As regards prices of medicinal products not provided by the state, Michael Briguglio said: “The importation of medicines should be reformed so as to reduce the price of medicines. In addition to importation of medicine being carried out by the private sector, Government should consider its involvement in the importation of essential medicine should the need arise. This should help to ensure the affordability of prices if there are market distortions, since Government can benefit from economies of scale whilst enhancing competition”.
Ralph Cassar, AD Secretary General, added: “Licences should be issued so that certain medicines which do not require a prescription are made available from other shops which are not necessarily pharmacies. This system is successfully employed in other countries such as England, Italy and Germany”.
“The licensing of pharmacies should be reformed so that additional licenses are issued for the opening of new pharmacies in localities. Presently the licensing permits for medicines are limited to the ratio of one for every 2500 persons and the issuing of a new licence can only be sustained following the closure of an existing pharmacy. This is leading to a situation where there are more pending applications for licensing than existing pharmacies. This limitation is certainly not feasible for localities which attract a substantial number of tourists and hinders rather than encourages competition and innovation. The liberalisation of the sector should help the consumer to get a more efficient service. Simultaneously, there should be a clause which assures a minimum amount of pharmacies in every locality. There should also be a scheme whereby a pharmacy or pharmacies remain open at every hour of the day”.