Apr 18, 2014

    Time to look into high cost of medicine

    THE public has good reason to be grateful to ST Senior Health Correspondent Salma Khalik for her impassioned plea to "Standardise subsidised patients' fees" (My Paper, April 16) as it throws into focus the often large disparity in charges at different medical centres, for "essentially the same services".

    Incidentally, this is a very common marketing technique known as "milk the market for what it will bear". Readers may recall that "affordable" was an obnoxious epithet freely used to dismiss all complaints of price hikes until the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

    A topic that has not been brought into discussion is the relatively high cost of medicine in Singapore, all platitudes of "subsidies" notwithstanding.

    The same medicine and drugs are a whole lot cheaper just across the Causeway. And even in India with its weak rupee, a medicine imported from a European country is available at a third of the price of the same drug in Singapore.

    While it may not be totally unreasonable to "soak the rich", profiteering at the expense of those at the bottom rungs of the social ladder is, to my mind at least, unconscionable.