Amendment could allow hospitals to negotiate prices to solve medical supply crisis

By Duc Minh   March 15, 2023 | 03:20 pm PT
Amendment could allow hospitals to negotiate prices to solve medical supply crisis
Medical workers check medicine supplies at the Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC, August 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Medical facilities may negotiate the prices of certain drugs and products during the contractor bidding process, according to a draft amendment to the Law on Procurement.

Finance-Budget Commission head Nguyen Phu Cuong said on Wednesday that the draft amendment on the Law on Procurement would allow medical facilities to negotiate some prices during the bidding process for contractors from which they may purchase drugs and medical equipment.

Price negotiation would only be applied to bidding packages on the purchase of patent medicine, drugs and ingredients produced by only one or two manufacturers.

Previously hospitals need to have at least three quotes from three different sellers when they want to buy an equipment, which in some cases is impossible as many medical equipment are only manufactured by one company.

National Assembly chairman Vuong Dinh Hue said regulations for price negotiation on patent medicine must be clear on exactly what kinds of cases would be open for negotiation.

"If there's a patent medicine, but there's also a generic drug (a copy of a patent medicine with the same active ingredients), there must be a bidding process," Hue said, adding that bidding to purchase drugs and equipment is still an effective method.

Deputy minister of health Le Duc Luan said price negotiation for drugs and patent medicine with only one or two manufacturers is appropriate, but that it should not be applicable to drug ingredients, as they are not considered to be actual drugs yet.

Several hospitals have been facing a shortage crisis due to a bidding process that currently presents obstacles to the purchase of drugs and medical equipment at affordable prices. At many such facilities, patients are forced to buy their own medicine, and even equipment and tools such as syringes and bandages.

The government has allowed hospitals to pilot certain new mechanisms enabling the fair purchase of drugs and medical equipment to resolve the shortages, but only an amendment to the Law on Procurement would be a long-term solution to the issue.

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