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Standardise costs of drugs, other medical supplies in public hospitals

I refer to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) reply (“Drug prices at public hospitals can vary because of different clinical set-ups, contracts: MOH”; Jan 20) to Ms Liu I-Chun’s letter (“Why is there a 34% difference in prices of eye medication at two public hospitals?”; Jan 15).

The Health Ministry should ensure that the cost of medical supplies — including medication — is uniform across public hospitals through single bulk procurement, says the writer.

The Health Ministry should ensure that the cost of medical supplies — including medication — is uniform across public hospitals through single bulk procurement, says the writer.

Chan Chan Fai

I refer to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) reply (“Drug prices at public hospitals can vary because of different clinical set-ups, contracts: MOH”; Jan 20) to Ms Liu I-Chun’s letter (“Why is there a 34% difference in prices of eye medication at two public hospitals?”; Jan 15).

The public generally expects the costs of medical treatment and supplies in all public hospitals to be similar. This is not unreasonable.

In reality, though, the cost of medical treatment, including surgical procedures, may not be the same across public hospitals owing to the varying experience of surgeons, for example.

But the cost of medical supplies should be similar at all public hospitals. This can be done with single bulk procurement for all public hospitals.  

This way, public hospitals can take advantage of economies of scale, which will lower the prices of medical supplies across public hospitals over time.  

More effective cost analyses can also be done, since the prices of all medical supplies will be available at the single procurement source and can be weighed against prices submitted by tenderers.  

Perhaps the MOH could look into this, so that the public can enjoy lower costs of medical supplies across public hospitals in the future.  

For now, patients buy medical supplies at prices that differ across public hospitals. This unfairly disadvantages them. 

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

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