Emergency drug for stroke available for free in 26 gov't hospitals
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Tuesday, August 16, that the stroke medication alteplase will be available to the public for free in 26 government hospitals nationwide.
Also called the tissue plasminogen activator, alteplase usually costs P80,000 per vial in pharmacies. However, the DOH procured the medicine in bulk for only P30,000 per vial, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a statement.
“Alteplase is truly a life saving drug, and every stroke patient eligible to receive it, should have access to it. It is not acceptable that a patient who cannot shelve out P80,000 will be deprived of this emergency medicine at a time when this is needed the most,” Ubial said.
She said the drug “is ideally given in the first 3 hours upon onset of acute stroke.”
The free stroke medicine will be available in the following government hospitals, which are also equipped with acute stroke units:
- East Avenue Medical Center
- Philippine Heart Center
- Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center
- National Kidney and Transplant Institute
- Quirino Memorial Medical Center
- Las Piñas General Hospital & Satellite Trauma Center
- Philippine General Hospital
- Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center
- Mariano Marcos Memorial Medical Center
- Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center
- Cagayan Valley Medical Center
- Southern Isabela General Hospital
- Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital
- Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research & Medical Center
- Batangas Medical Center
- Bicol Regional Training & Teaching Hospital
- Bicol Medical Center
- Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital
- Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital
- Western Visayas Medical Center
- Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center
- Zamboanga City Medical Center
- Cotabato Regional and Medical Center
- Northern Mindanao Medical Center
- Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Regional & Teaching Hospital
- Southern Philippines Medical Center
Ubial, who announced the program in celebration of Brain Attack Awareness Week, acknowledged that some patients go to private hospitals due to the emergency nature of stroke.
To be able to administer alteplase for free to poor patients in private hospitals, the health chief has instructed government hospitals to explore partnerships with their private counterparts.
Under the possible arrangement, private hospitals will request DOH hospitals for alteplase vials. Private hospitals have to give an assurance that the stroke medicine will be given to the needy patients for free.
Ubial also reminded doctors that alteplase should be given only to patients who have ischemic type of stroke, “or those with blocked blood vessels in the brain.” Alteplase breaks down unwanted blood clots.
“It is very important that the attending doctor distinguish the type of stroke, whether ischemic or haemorrhagic, as alteplase will just worsen the stroke if given to those with the haemorrhagic type since this will just promote more bleeding in the brain,” Ubial said. – Rappler.com