Under the new law, brought into effect on May 29, all hospitals must publicly disclose the drugs provided, the manufacturer, the drugs’ brand names, how much the hospital purchased the drugs for and how much they are selling them for, confirmed Sasiphimon Mongkon, Chief of the Phuket Provincial office of the Ministry of Commerce, which has been tasked with implementing the new regulation.
The new law is being implemented through the Department of Internal Trade, under the Ministry of Commerce following the order by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha last week.
That order came after the government recognised surveys that reported that some private hospitals in Thailand were found to be charging their patients from 300% up to 16,000% higher than the recommended prices, Deputy Government Spokesman Lt Gen Werachon Sukondhapatipak revealed last Sunday (June 9). (See story here.)
Notices informing private hospitals in Phuket of the new legal requirement were dispatched this week, Ms Sasiphimon explained to The Phuket News.
“The initial order was issued by the Department of Internal Trade on May 29,” Ms Sasiphimon said. (See official notice posted on DIT website, here.)
“Every hospital must comply, even government hospitals,” she added.
“Each hospital must inform us which drugs on the list of 30,103 drugs on the Thai Medicine Terminology list that the hospital provides. Previously, private hospitals were required to display the prices of only 10% of them, mainly those widely used in emergency cases,” Ms Sasiphimon noted.
“We received the order from the Department of Internal Trade in Bangkok on June 5. Drug prices must be disclosed by every hospital in Phuket so that consumers can make better-informed decisions before deciding to receive treatment,” she explained.
Under the order issued by DIT Director-General Whichai Phochanakij and Acting Minister of Commerce Chutima Bunyapraphasara on June 5, hospitals have 45 days from the date of the order – that is, until July 20 – to display the price lists of drugs either on its website or via QR codes.
Those who do not comply will be subjected to a fine of up to B10,000 and/or up to one year in prison.
For prescriptions, private hospitals are required to first provide the pricing and brand name details to all emergency patients immediately, and to all types of patients at a later stage.
The prescriptions must give both trade and scientific names of the medicines. Failure to comply with the rule results in a five-year jail term and/or a fine of up to B100,000.
“All private and government hospitals including Bangkok Hospital Phuket, Siriroj International Hospital, Dibuk Hospital, Phuket Provincial Hospital and Vachira Phuket Hospital must display the price lists of the drugs they provide,” Ms Sasiphimon said.
“People have right to check the prices and details of the drugs and services provided before hospital staff provide treatment,” she added.
“Currently our goal is to collect the information (about the drugs provided), which must be sent to the Department of Internal Trade in Bangkok,” Ms Sasiphimon explained.
“The Department of Internal Trade will show standard information [about drugs provided] on its website, so it is available to the public,” she said.
“After June 30, we will go to inspect every hospital in Phuket to make sure that every hospital is publicly showing the cost of the drugs and services. It can be on a website, a QR code made available for the public to scan in a public area of the hospital or a poster or listed on paper or a brochure – but it must be there for the public to see,” she said.
“It is the hospital’s responsibility to display this information. Every hospital must disclosure its prices by law. If any hospital does not, it will be fined,” Ms Sasiphimon warned.
The problem of high prices being charged is present in Phuket, Ms Sasiphimon confirmed.
“We have received complaints that some private hospital charge very high prices for standard medicines,” she said.
“This has been a problem in Phuket, and there is nothing that sick people can do about it. They have to pay the prices,” she added.
The Phuket News has yet to receive a reply from any of the hospitals contacted about what steps were being taken to comply with the new law, and whether the prices of any drugs or services provided by the hospital will be affected.