More vital drugs exempted from VAT with TRAIN law

Senator Sonny Angara said there are now over 2,000 Value Added Tax (VAT)-exempt drugs for the prevention and management of specific illnesses, including some of the most prevalent among the public.

Standing to benefit from this development are Filipinos suffering from cancer, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease, mental illness, high cholesterol
and tuberculosis who will now have more medicines available to them at affordable prices following the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsement of 20 more drugs for VAT exemption.

“We thank the issuance of a new list of 20 drugs for diseases like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and kidney diseases which are usually experienced by our people),” Angara said, noting that this is just one of the benefits of Republic Act (RA) 10963 or Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Angara said this provision of the law, which was formulated in the Lower House by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, and sponsored and introduced in the Senate by then-senator and now Finance Secretary Ralph Recto.

Angara noted that before the passage of RA 10963, many Filipinos suffering from these common ailments tended to skip their medication because they could not afford to buy medicines.

The exemption of the drugs from VAT that came as a result of the TRAIN law and the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) law, another Salceda creation, has brought down prices and made them more accessible to most Filipinos.

In FDA Advisory No. 2024-0329, the following medicines were added to the list of VAT-exempt health products:

For cancer

• Sonidegib (as phosphate) 200 mg capsule;
• Pemetrexed (as disodium heptahydrate) 100 mg lyophilized powder for IV infusion;
• Asciminib (as hydrochloride) 20 mg tablet
• Asciminib (as hydrochloride) 40 mg tablet
• Palbociclib 75 mg tablet
• Palbociclib 100 mg tablet
• Palbociclib 125 mg tablet
• Pemetrexed (as disodium hemipentahydrate) 100 mg powder concentrate for solution for infusion
• Pemetrexed (as disodium hemipentahydrate) 10mg/ml solution for injection
• Cabasitaxel 60 mg/1.5 ml concentrate for solution for injection
• Entrectinib 100 mg
• Entrectinib 200 mg

For hypertension

• Losartan Potassium+Amlodipine (as besilate) 100 mg/10 mg tablet
• Losartan Potassium+Amlodipine (as besilate) 100 mg/5 mg tablet
• Irbesartan+Amlodipine (as besilate) 300 mg/5 mg tablet
• Irbesartan+Amlodipine (as besilate) 300 mg/10 mg tablet

For mental illness

• Cariprazine (as hydrochloride) 1.5 mg capsule
• Cariprazine (as hydrochloride) 3 mg capsule
• Cariprazine (as hydrochloride) 4.5 mg capsule
• Cariprazine (as hydrochloride) 6 mg capsule

Last January, the Bureau of Internal Revenue also released a list of 21 medicines endorsed by the FDA for VAT exemption.

“The end goal of all of these actions is to make these lifesaving drugs more accessible to those who need it. This was the goal of the TRAIN and CREATE laws when it included these provisions on VAT exemptions for select medicines. Taking care of one’s health should not be an option,” Angara said.

On top of the VAT exemption, Angara noted that senior citizens and persons with disabilities would still enjoy the discounts accorded to them under the law.

Apart from the VAT exemption on medicines, the TRAIN law also reduced the income tax rates of the majority of wage earners and exempted those who earn PHP250,000 and below. (With PNA)