Three local firms seek higher drug prices By Dao Loan – The Saigon Times Daily HCMC – Three of 22 drug producers in HCMC have asked the city’s Department of Health for approval to raise prices while keeping their supply contracts with hospitals intact. Pham Khanh Phong Lan, deputy director of the department, told the Daily on Monday the department was weighing their proposals. “The price hikes will not leave big impacts on patients because many of the drugs are low priced.” The U.S. dollar rise against the Vietnamese dong along with higher input costs will hit drug makers. “Drug prices will certainly rise. Many companies are still using materials that were bought months ago when prices remained low,” Lan said. She said some medicines had edged up in prices, though. As for the drug supply contracts with the city’s hospitals, Lan said, business is as usual. The department has not found any companies suspending their contracts with the hospitals in the city because of the strengthening dollar. The Health Department is mapping out a plan to stabilize prices of medicines. The city government will offer interest-free loans to carry out the plan. The department will submit the plan to the city government late this week. “Widely used medicines will fall under the plan. We want to ensure easy access to those drugs for the public, especially the poor,” Lan said.