Saturday, January 10, 2015

Only 300 medicines will be GST zero-rated

PETALING JAYA: Only about 320 different medicines are GST zero-rated as the same medicine made by different manufacturers have been counted repeatedly.
This was disclosed jointly by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild (MCPG), Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA), Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI) and Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS).
Citing an example, they said, Paracetamol is counted as 17 items instead of one medicine.
They said the National Essential Medicines List (NEML) 4th Edition represents only 13% of the total 43,000 registered medicines.
"The majority of these zero-rated medicines are only used in government hospitals. The many medicines outside the list are widely prescribed and used in the private sector, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies which are mainly paid out of pocket," said MPS president Datuk Nancy Ho.
She said if they are not zero-rated there will likely be an increase in the cost of medicines, making them unaffordable to many patients who are on long term medication.
"The MPS and other pharmacy stakeholders would like to see all Scheduled Medicine zero-rated before April 1," she said in a statement.
Ho said they have written to the prime minister appealing for all Scheduled Medicines to be zero-rated under GST so that the sick would not be taxed for their medication.
"The health minister himself has previously been quoted to say that there is a possibility of increase in medical care by 1% to 2% after the implementation of GST and the government is looking into ways to reduce this cost," she said, adding that the ministry had recognised that there are technical issues on health services being exempted from GST in that while services are GST-exempted, the products used in the services are not.
She said the minister was saying the ministry "would like for all medications to be zero-rated GST" and it is up to the Customs Department.
Ho said it is not easy to explain to ordinary people why the price of essential medicine has gone up when there are 900 other items (including lobster) which are GST-exempted as announced during the tabling of the Budget 2015.
"On the price hike, those who require long-term medication will be the hardest hit. It is of concern that with such price increases, the patient may be forced to stop taking their medicines," she added.
She said certain illnesses such as cancer, require a patient to fork out tens of thousands of ringgit every month.
" If they are made to pay GST at a standard rate, they will need to pay an extra of RM600 in tax for every RM10,000 they need to pay for their medication. It is already sad for a person to fall seriously sick which cripples his ability to generate an income necessary to battle for his life. With GST he may has to pay even more for his medicines," she added.

The MPS had started a petition campaign to seek support that all Controlled Medicines (Schedule Poison B and C)to be zero-rated under GST.

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