Tuesday, April 10, 2012
It's Always About The Money
What local doctors are really upset about is why the approval of the FDA or the EU is not enough. "The FDA is a US monstrosity that has thousands of people working full-time. Why does HSA want to re-do what the FDA has done?" asked Dr Huang, an ear, nose and throat specialist. One suspects the answer is right there in the good doctor's question. The Health Ministry probably wants to create another monstrosity in the civil service, staffing it with thousands of people (and expensive permanent secretaries), and boosting the cost of living even higher than it already is. We have seen how Vehicle Inspection Centers have been set up to swell up the government coffers. And made thousands of motorists poorer. MAS claims to be "very concerned" about the persistent inflation, hovering around 5%. It's strong Singapore dollar strategy won't be of any help if the inflationary pressure is generated internally.
On the medical supply side, many reputable manufacturers may decide to skip the Singapore market rather than put up with the bureaucratic crap. But doctors who run the risk of importing an item not registered with HSA face a potential fine of up to $50,000 and/or a jail term of 2 years. At the end of the day, the patient suffers - for want of a better catheter or anaesthetic. Eye specialist Dr Tan suggests HSA should follow the example of Japan, where doctors can bring in anything - instruments, drugs, etc - if they assume personal responsibility for their use. If you can't trust your doctor, who can you trust? HSA is not budging, they are only prepared to "review its charges." It was always about the money, not affordable health care for the citizens.