Health D-G: New drugs scheme frozen pending Auditor-General’s advice

Azril Annuar
Noor Hisham explained that one of the PASc schemes offered by pharmaceutical companies was not detailed enough. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 16 — The Health Ministry suspended the Patient Access Scheme (PASc) to provide new drugs for cancer and rare diseases for free as it is awaiting the National Audit Department’s feedback

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that one of the PASc schemes offered by pharmaceutical companies was not detailed enough and forced the ministry to seek advice from the Auditor-General.

“One of the PASc schemes proposed by the pharmaceutical companies involved giving out free packs/bonusing tied to medicine purchased by government facilities.

“We are concerned that the free packs could be breaching ethics and raise integrity issues as there are no detailed records on the free packs in the procurement records between pharmaceutical companies and the Health Ministry’s facilities.

“A detailed study must be conducted,” said Dr Noor Hisham adding that the matter has also been explained to the relevant stakeholders.

He added that a PASc Implementation Application Guideline was also prepared by the Ministry on June 1 this year.

The guideline aims to explain the PASc application process, examination and approval at Health Ministry’s facilities while ensuring uniformity and transparency. It will also ensure that any PASc proposal by pharmaceuticals meets all the requirements.

“The Health Ministry assures that other schemes are still running as usual in all government health facilities.

“The Health Ministry also does not have any problems with the giveaway of free packs (for charity/compassionate use) to patients as long as there are no caveats tying to the Health Ministry’s procurements,” said Dr Noor Hisham.