Public Hospitals Lowering Drug Prices Unlikely to Affect GP Business


Singapore’s Agency for Care Effectiveness (Ace) has recently make it so that eleven drugs will be cheaper for patients through public hospitals than through their private doctors. Even so, many private medical practitioners are not worried that this will have a large negative impact on their businesses, for a number of reasons.

Last Wednesday the Ace released guidelines that should provide more information about medical treatments and the subsidies available from the government for certain medications. The guidelines will also cap the prices on some drugs at hospitals and other public healthcare institutions. This will make them the most cost-effective for the health benefits that they provide. There are nine drugs that patients will be able to have subsidized. Some of the drugs will treat illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, acute migraine attacks, and metastatic breast cancer.

One Dr from Everhealth Family Clinic and Surgery in Jurong, Dr. Jonathan Pang, said that the new guidelines really shouldn’t affect most patients who go to doctors in the private sector. He says that public hospitals have drugs that are cheaper and so the price caps will not have much of a difference. Different patients with different needs will choose to go to the private or public sector.

A general practitioner from MW Medical at Marina Bay Sands, Dr Madeleine Chow said that the capped prices that will be available for hospitals are actually about the same as ones for private practices when they are bought in bulk. Doctors in private practice who buy drugs in bulk really won’t have that much of a difference in price from the public institutions. This doctor also realizes that patients who like the level of care that they can get in a private office will not be switching over to a public institution if they can afford it. The personalized care is important to a lot of patients and isn’t something that they will be able to receive elsewhere.

Yet another doctor, Dr Clarence Yeo, operating out of the Killiney Family and Wellness Clinic based in Somerset, agrees with the other doctors. Many of the medications discussed in the guidelines are not ones that will be generally prescribed out of a private office. They are ones for more complex diseases, such as breast cancer, that will have to be treated in the hospitals.

Patients will not have as easy a time switching to get the drugs that are subsidized as they may think. Dr Tan Tze Lee from The Edinburg Clinic in Choa Chu Kang discusses the problems that patients may face trying to switch to the public sector from a private doctor. It may be difficult to qualify for the subsidies as there is a long process to go through and not all patients may be able to get the drugs.

However, some doctors, like Kevin Chua from Drs Chua and Partners located in Bukit Merah are planning ahead just in case. Some clinics like his will expand their alternative services, such as aesthetics, just in case they loose a large number of patients. These other services can help make up any deficit in income.

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Morris Edwards is a content writer at, he writes different topics like Build a safe and healthy workplace and The Most Innovative Economy In Asia and all topics related to Business, Economy and Company Incorporation in Singapore.