Prices of herbal medicines to be standardised hinh anh 1A farmer collects herbal plants. (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The supply, price and use of herbal medicines will be tightened by strengthening policies on quality assessment at medical facilities, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien has stressed. 

Speaking at a recent conference, Tien said that for a long time, prices of medicines in Vietnam 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 Tran Van On, head of the Department of Botany under Hanoi University of Pharmacy. Since Vietnam 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 On.

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, Nguyen Ta Tinh, head of the Department of Medicines and Medical Supplies under Vietnam 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 cooperation 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, then Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung 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 Vietnam.

To that point, Vietnamese herbal medicines are expected to be competitive in regional and world markets.-VNA