Expensive medicines expire because of cumbersome procedures

Created 05 May 2017
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The Vietnam Drug Administration has asked the HCM City Department of Health to report on a case in which 20,000 tablets for leukaemia treatment expired because of cumbersome procedures.

Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion

 

The department must submit the report by May 7.  

According to the HCM City inspectorate, as of December 31, 2015, 19,997 Tasigna tablets were left in the storage of Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion. 

The tablets were imported as non-project aid but expired in May 2015.

The hospital explained that the manufacturer sent them a letter to inform that the medicines were ready for import in July 2013, and the hospital asked the Drug Administration of Vietnam to receive to tablets in November 2013 and was given a permit a month later.

In December 2013, the hospital asked the Department of Health permission to import the drugs and implement the drug programme. 

In March 2014, the Department of Health forwarded the request to the city people's committee and the HCM City Union of Friendship Organisations.

In June 2014, HCM City People's Committee gave its approval to import 309 boxes of Tasigna tablets for leukaemia patients with the expiration date in May 2015. 

However, the Customs Department of HCM City denied the importation as the expiration date is less than 12 months.

It took a year in order to import the medicines but thousands of tablets that worth nearly VND14bn (USD615,000) had to be destroyed as the result of complicated procedures while many poor patients are in need of medicines. 

In addition it is not easy for them to buy expensive medicines like Tasigna.

Previously, patients are given Glivec but many people have become resistant to this drug and Tasigna is expected to be the effective replacement. 

This programme is supported by Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, the American Max Foundation and Swiss manufacturer Novartis Pharma Services AG. Novartis will lower the prices of the Tasigna by 28%. 

However, patients still need to pay an additional VND42m (USD1,800) a year so only 26 patients at Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion are qualified to join the programme.

Phu Chi Dung, director of Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion said as this was the first batch of Tasigna medicine imported into Vietnam, the procedures were more complicated. 

The expiration date is also shorter than usual because the medicines used for aid programme. 

There are also not enough patients to use such many medicines.

"The manufacturer refused to scrap the requirement that patients need to pay the additional VND42m a year. We also proposed to let patients in other hospitals use the medicine too but they refused," he said.

Dung said after this experience, they were planning another programme in which patients will be given free medicines. 

The manufacturer will pay for 60% and health insurance will cover 40% of the prices. 

Patients who are resistant to Glivec and have joined health insurance system for over three years can participate. The programme will be opened at eight hospitals.

"The authorities promised that the import procedures for the next batch of medicine will be completed within three months. We also proposed to the manufacturers to give medicines with longer expiration dates," Dung said.

 

 

Source: Dtinews - VietNamNet

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