Robie de Guzman
Senator Francis Pangilinan on Thursday said he has filed a bill seeking to exempt mental health medicines from value-added tax (VAT) to make them affordable for Filipinos suffering from mental health conditions.
In Senate Bill No. 258, Pangilinan introduced further amendments to the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 exempting drugs and medicines prescribed for mental health conditions from VAT.
“Sa pagsasabatas ng Mental Health Act, kinikilala ang agarang pangangailangan ng mga Pilipinong may mental health condition sa de-kalidad na tulong medikal. Mahalaga na mapaabot sa kanila ang abot-kayang mga gamot para sa kanilang karamdaman,” Pangilinan said in a statement.
(The passage of the Mental Health Act recognizes the urgent need of Filipinos with mental health conditions for quality medical care. It is important that they get access to affordable medicines for their condition.)
Citing a 2007 World Health Organization (WHO) study, Pangilinan said in the explanatory note of the bill that “the cost of antipsychotic medication is 0.46 percent and antidepressant medication is 11.14 percent of the daily minimum wage.”
He also noted that the cost of drugs and medicines prescribed for mental health conditions are not covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.
Pangilinan said that according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), mental health conditions are the third most common forms of disease for Filipinos at 14% of all diseases.
It also states that between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults and between 10% and 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health conditions.
“Bilang isa sa mga pinaka-karaniwang karamdaman ng mga Pilipino, dapat prayoridad ang abot-kayang gamot bilang suporta sa mga dumaranas ng ganitong karamdaman. Alisin na natin ang VAT sa mental health medicines. Alisin natin ang sakit sa bulsa nila,” he said.
(As one of the most common illnesses of Filipinos, affordable medicines should be a priority for those suffering from them. Remove the VAT on mental health medicines. Remove the pain on their pockets.)