Emergency drug for stroke available for free in 26 gov’t hospitals

Emergency drug for stroke available for free in 26 gov’t hospitals

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial instructs government hospitals to explore partnerships with private hospitals, so needy patients can still avail themselves of alteplase for free

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:

Metro Manila

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
Luzon

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
Visayas

Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital
Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital
Western Visayas Medical Center
Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center
Mindanao

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. –

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