Patient Access Scheme suspended, pending Auditor-General's advice

HASHINI KAVISHTRI KANNAN

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has suspended the Patient Access Scheme (PASc), which provides new drugs for treatment of cancer and rare diseases free of charge, pending feedback from the National Audit Department.

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

“This scheme proposed by the pharmaceutical companies involves giving out free packs/bonusing tied to medicine purchased by government facilities,” he said.

“This has raised our concern that free packs could be in breach of ethics and raised questions about integrity because there are no detailed records on the free packs in the procurement records between pharmaceutical companies and the ministry’s facilities.”

In light of this, he said, a detailed study must be conducted on the matter.

He said the PASc Implementation Application Guideline was prepared on June 1.

“The guideline aims to explain the PASc application process, examination and approval at ministry’s facilities while ensuring uniformity and transparency.

“It will also ensure that any PASc proposal by pharmaceuticals meets all the requirements.”

He said the other schemes were operating as usual at government health facilities.

“There are also no hindrances in giveaway free packs (for charity/compassionate use) to patients as long as there are no caveats tying them to the ministry’s procurements.”

He added that the ministry was committed to ensuring that patients had access to medicines and that it occurred in a transparent manner. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd