The National Health Insurance Board (NHIB) is informing the public that only generic drugs are authorized to be used under its National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP).
It notes, however, that branded drugs are approved in special cases.
“We want to remind you that the National Health Insurance Plan only entitles beneficiaries to generic drugs primarily and Branded drugs only where necessary,” the NHIB said in a statement released on Friday.
In recent times there has been some level of uproar among members of the public, who accused the NHIB of withdrawing branded drugs and replaced them with generic ones.
But the body has rubbished such claims, saying that generic drugs were always being authorized to be used as the preferred drugs.
“It has always been the case, and this stipulation has not been changed with the updated Formulary. Pharmacies and doctors have been aware of this since the inception of the NHIP. The majority of drugs covered by the Plan have always been generic drugs,” it pointed out.
It added: “A generic drug is a pharmaceutical drug containing the same chemical substance as a drug originally protected by chemical patents. When a drug is first invented, there is a patent on it.
“This means that only the company that developed the drug can manufacture, brand, and sell it. However, once the patent expires, then the drug can be made by more manufacturers. These manufacturers must adhere to the same quality and safety standards as the name brand manufacturers.”
The NHIB noted that it is cognizant of the circumstances under which there are clinical situations where branded drugs are necessary.
“We have tried to capture these instances by including some brands in the updated Formulary. Beyond this, we have made allowance for one-off evaluations of special requests for drugs not on the Formulary.
“This process has been in use for several years. Your doctors and pharmacies are aware of this process and can complete the necessary request document,” the NHIB further noted.
In the meantime, the NHIB is disclosing that NHIP has updated its drug formulary to cover newer drugs that it did not previously cover.
“Older drugs that were no longer in use were swapped for better alternatives. There should not be any significant changes to your medication. However, to help with a smooth transition, the Formulary was distributed to your doctors and pharmacies three months before it came into effect. This should help your doctor guide you through any minor changes required,” the statement further noted.