Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The supply, price and use of herbal medicines will be tightened by strengthening policies on quality assessment at medical facilities, Minister of Health Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến has stressed.
Speaking at a recent conference, Tiến said that for a long time, prices of medicines in Việt Nam have been higher than in other regional countries, putting a huge burden on the social insurance fund.
The difference in prices of traditional herbal medicines reflects the distinguished quality of medicinal plants, according to Trần Văn Ơn, head of the Department of Botany, under Hà Nội University of Pharmacy. Since Việt Nam has a rich biodiversity, one herbal species includes different types with various sizes.
“Consumers may buy poor-quality herbal medicines at high prices if we do not set a common standard for these products,” said Ơn.
With the aim of addressing the issue, he recommended the Ministry of Health (MoH) to carry out a comprehensive review of herbal medicines and establish a standard based on quality and types of herbal plants. The standard will help to set prices at drug biddings in the market, benefiting customers.
On the other hand, Nguyễn Tá Tỉnh, head of the Department of Medicines and Medical Supplies, under Việt Nam Social Security (VSS), told Vietnam News Agency that there was a vast range in prices of herbal medicines. Therefore, in the near future, the agency in collaboration with MoH will evaluate and adjust prices of these products.
“In reality, it is impossible to have a huge difference in prices of herbal medicines supplied by different distributors,” he said.
To avoid wastage of the social insurance fund, VSS and the Department of Traditional Medicine Management under MoH will collaborate to work towards solutions to pricing management. Besides, they call for co-operation of Customs and Market Surveillance Agency in checking herbal medicines’ certificates of origin and quality as well as of MoH in post-investigating medical facilities.
According to the Department of Traditional Medicine Management, there is no regulation on price declaration of herbal plants and medicines as they depend heavily on crops and imports. The price range and quality of these products differ among localities.
The department, therefore, sets reference prices of herbal medicines for medical facilities, helping them to approach high qualities of products at reasonable prices.
In 2013, former prime minister Nguyễn Tấn Dũng approved a plan to develop the herbal medicine sector by 2020, creating a solid foundation for applying high-tech activities to accelerate the industry in Việt Nam.
To that point, Vietnamese herbal medicines are expected to be competitive in regional and world markets. — VNS