Excerpt of MMA-PhAMA Dialogue Report on NEDL

The National Essential Drug List (NEDL)

Dr. Rajamohan [of MMA] briefed that he had looked into the NEDL extensively. He highlighted that, on the whole, the list served to reduce cost. The products listed in the NEDL were chosen based on their cost, efficacy and easy availability. Dr. Rajamohan further briefed that the WHO recommendation was that the NEDL should not just be a list of drugs but should also contain a guideline on how every drug listed within it should be used.

The WHO Essential Drug List was targeted at third world countries and was actually a list of medicines that were considered that in order to cater for the needs of the majority of the population of the country. The long-term impact of the NEDL should be considered. It was highlighted that there already existed the blue book listing for government hospitals. The NEDL was an extension of this list into the private practice and this raised several issues of concern to the pharmaceutical industry. These were:

  1. The list might not be updated in time to allow new drugs to be entered in the NEDL in time.
  2. The presence of limited drugs on the list could limit treatment options available to the practitioner.
  3. The government hospitals already had a blue book system. The private sector should not be subjected to such lists. The free market policies within the private sector would ensure that a competitive environment for drug prices was maintained.

The MMA noted that the original objective of the NEDL has been transparency of prices to the patient. They further noted that a good number of products that had been proposed to be included in the list by the MMA and NEDL Drug List sub-Committee had been removed from the list. The new list appeared to contain a smaller number of products.

Both MMA and PhAMA agreed that drug registration procedures already served to control the supply of medicines. There was no further need to impose further controls on the availability of medicines or to inhibit the import of new innovative drugs.

It was agreed that a joint meeting should be organised between the Director-General of Health and all parties involved in the NEDL, MMA, MPS, PhAMA and MOPI. The objective of this meeting is to voice the concerns of the Associations regarding the NEDL and to seek clarification from the Director-General on the objective of the NEDL.

Source: Berita MMA (Malaysian Medical Association News), Vol. 29, No.8, August 1999, p. 18.