9 January 2012
Question no. 78
Name of person: Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef
To ask the Minister for Health whether the Medication Assistance Fund can be expanded to include medications prescribed by non-hospital clinics such as private clinics and general practitioners as some non-standard/non-generic medications can be costly as the pharmaceutical industry evolves.
The government provides subsidies for drugs in the public healthcare sector to help improve the affordability of commonly used medications. The list of subsidised medications, known as the Standard Drug List, contains drugs that have been assessed to be cost-effective and essential. This list is reviewed on a yearly basis to take into account changes in clinical practice and advances in medical science.
The Medication Assistance Fund (MAF) helps eligible patients pay for expensive drugs that are not in the Standard Drug List but have been assessed to be clinically necessary, and covers conditions such as cancer and heart failure. MOH has been regularly reviewing and adding more drugs to the MAF list since its launch in Aug 2010, and increased the size of the fund accordingly. To ensure appropriate use of the MAF, clinical controls and approvals are put in place to assess the eligibility of the patients and to ensure that the drugs prescribed are clinically necessary and appropriate for the treatment of the patient’s condition.
MOH has already expanded healthcare subsidies beyond the public sector to means tested patients in the private sector, through the Primary Care Partnership Scheme. This subsidy lowers the total bill for patients, including the cost of drugs used, so that they can get affordable, subsidised care by the general practitioners (GP). As MAF was further enhanced in October 2011, we will need to consider further expansion of its scope, and the possibility of access by the private sector carefully, after reviewing our experience.