Early federal audit finds nothing dodgy about free meds scheme

Early federal audit finds nothing dodgy about free meds scheme

KUALA LUMPUR,. The Auditor General’s (A-G) preliminary audit has cleared a patient assistance scheme that provided costly new drugs to the public for free, amid the Health Ministry’s concerns of integrity issues.

The suspended programme dubbed the patient access scheme (PASc) involves pharmaceutical firms offering new medications not yet available in public hospitals for free to patients with cancer and rare diseases.

“Based on the contract that we have reviewed, we have not found any unethical practices,” A-G Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad told Malay Mail.

“However, this is a preliminary finding. We need to do a full audit.”

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad declined comment when asked if the PASc was restored.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said last August that the ministry was suspending the PASc pending feedback from the National Audit Department.

Dr Noor Hisham said one of the PASc schemes offered by pharmaceutical companies, which involved giving out free drugs upon the government’s purchase of other medicines, was possibly an ethics violation.

Dzulkefly also said applications by two pharmaceutical companies to join the PASc were under review.

The Health Ministry’s abrupt decision potentially affects thousands of patients suffering from cancer and rare diseases.

According to the Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia, more than 10 of its members offered the PASc that had benefited about 12,000 patients from 2013 to 2016.

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