Hanoi (VNA) - The national centralised bidding for 20 types of drugs covered by health insurance has helped save 251.13 billion VND (10.9 million USD) on drugs, said Duong Tuan Duc, director of the Centre for Health Insurance Appraisal and Multi-level Payments in the North under Vietnam Social Security.

The total price of 20 bid-winning drugs was 935.99 billion VND (40.7 million USD), down 21.12 percent compared to the average drug bidding price of last year.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Vietnam Social Security invited bids to select 2018’s drug suppliers of five active substances with total value of more than 1 trillion VND (43.5 million USD).

Five patent medicines and 15 types of generic drugs won the bidding.

The bidding helped reduce drug prices by 13.82 percent on average for patented medicines and 33.81 percent for generic drugs compared to the prices of provincial bidding in 2017.

Among the five winning patent medicines, the prices of Meropenem 500mg and Meropenem 1g experienced the biggest plunge (15 percent).

Notably, price of domestically-manufactured Levofloxacin 500mg (generic) of group 3 (manufactured following the World Health Organisation’s Good manufacturing practice) plunged by 54.7 percent.

The centralised bidding shattered the concept that patented drugs are exclusive and their prices never fall, Duc said.

In the first ever national trial centralised drug bidding, the Vietnam Social Security worked with the ministries of planning and investment, health, finance, local health departments and healthcare facilities covered by health insurance, Duc said.

Bidding winners committed to ensuring drug quality and supply to serve patients, he said.

Through the bidding, Vietnam Social Security contributed to removing inappropriate drug bidding plans and identifying abnormally high drug prices, as well as differences in content and prices of drug groups.

Vietnam Social Security asked bidders to show documents to prove their drug supply commitment. The agency will supervise drug supply and use them at healthcare facilities via the health insurance supervision information system.

Pham Luong Son, deputy director general of the Vietnam Social Security, said that the bidding was conducted successfully, following regulations, ensuring transparency.

 “National drug bidding brings advantages to not only Vietnam Social Security but also public and healthcare facilities,” he said.

He said that the bidding has fulfilled two goals. The first is to ensure enough drugs of high quality. The second one is to reduce drug prices, especially the price of patent medicines.

If there is anything found not transparent and open in the bidding process, those responsible will be fined without exception, he said. - VNA