News Feature | March 27, 2014

Vietnam Looking For More Control Of Drug Prices

By Marcus Johnson

Vietnam is looking to improve their hold on drug prices. The prices of drugs have soared in recent years, with many calling on the government to intervene. The country's Prime Minster, Nguyen Tan Dung, was quoted asking his country's Health Minister, Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, what she had done to combat the rising prices. “Medicine prices are very high, Ms Tien. In what way did [you] manage things that resulted in such high drug prices,” asked the Prime Minister at a conference in Hanoi. “Meanwhile, residents are suffering because they cannot bargain on drug prices.”

The Prime Minister has approved a new proposal which would create a national committee that controls the prices drug companies are allowed to charge for products. The Health Minister said that her ministry shouldn't be responsible for the rising drug prices. “The Ministry of Finance should be appointed to manage drug prices,” she said. Tien also stated that putting the Ministry of Finance in charge of drug prices would keep the nation in step with international trends.

There has been a back and forth argument between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance over who should control the price mechanism for pharmaceutical regulations. The Deputy Prime Minster, Vu Duc Dam, believes that the health industry should take charge. “Whoever will manage medicine prices, they must not allow unreasonable medicine price hikes,” he said.

The new national committee created to manage rising drug costs would be composed of officials from the health and finance ministries, as well as from consumer associations. The committee would vote on different proposals from drug companies to increase or lower their prices based on economic conditions in the country.