Medicine supply crisis could ease as Vietnam removes cap on bidding prices

By Le Nga   March 17, 2023 | 11:10 pm PT
Medicine supply crisis could ease as Vietnam removes cap on bidding prices
Medical workers check medicine supplies at the Cho Ray Hospital in HCMC, July 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Hospitals will be allowed to negotiate the prices of drugs and medical supplies when bidding instead of having to follow government-set price caps.

According to a new regulation announced recently by the Ministry of Health, starting April 27, hospitals will be allowed to use the price quote from one seller of exclusive equipment to set up a bidding price for such equipment.

Price negotiation would only be applied to bidding packages on the purchase of patented medicines and ingredients produced by only one or two manufacturers.

Previously, hospitals had to procure medicines and equipment through bidding, and set the prices based on the price caps set by the Ministry of Health within the previous 12 months, and the new prices must not be higher than the old prices. Hospital leaders said they could hardly meet this requirement, because it meant prices had to keep going down, which is basically against the market rules.

In case the bidding prices had not been announced by the ministry, hospitals needed to have at least three quotes from three different sellers of an equipment or medicine, which in some cases has been impossible as many types of medical equipment are only manufactured by one company.

The new regulation is expected to make it easier for hospitals to get access to drugs and medical supplies.

The shortage of medicines and supplies in Vietnam has been causing problems for hospitals and patients since early last year.

Viet Duc Hospital, the largest surgical center in northern Vietnam, had to suspend scheduled surgeries beginning March 1 to save limited medicines and equipment for emergency cases. Many patients whose surgeries were delayed have had to get by with painkillers.

Cho Ray Hospital, the largest public facility in southern Vietnam, and Bach Mai, Hanoi's largest public hospital, have not been able to buy equipment and chemicals for examinations, and had to send their patients to private facilities for procedures such as CT scans, MRIs and and color Doppler ultrasound scans.

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