The high and extremely variable prices of medicines in the Philippines impact access to effective, efficient and equitable health care. In 2009, a study conducted by Health Action International revealed that there was extreme variability in the procurement prices of essential medicines in the national and local public health facilities in the country. Originator brands and generic equivalents were also showed to have been procured almost 16 times and 3 times higher, respectively, compared to international markets.

DOH-Central Office Bids and Awards Committee (DOH-COBAC) and DOH hospitals were shown to have more efficient public prices compared to provincial and municipal health facilities, thus leading to variability in access to essential medicines across the Philippines.

Republic Act (RA) 9502 or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 gave the DOH instruments to monitor and regulate the prices of drugs and medicines to protect consumers and the public procuring entities from excessive mark-ups applied to medicines resulting from information asymmetry and the lack of effective market competition.

To address these issues, the DOH Pharmaceutical Division has established a Drug Price Reference Index (DPRI) for all essential medicines to guide all national and local government health facilities in the efficient sourcing of pharmaceutical products in the public sector. Douglas B. Tisocki K (2009) Public Procurement Prices of Medicines in the Philippines Health Action International