No. of :

No. of Shares:

Currently viewed by: Marcus Rosit

Seniors welcome VAT-exempt of 59 maintenance drugs

MANILA (PIA) — The Philippine Government's decision to remove the value-added tax (VAT) on 59 maintenance medicines for treatable, life-threatening illnesses has been met with a positive response from people who are affected by these diseases.

One of those who welcomed the news is Sylvia Gonzaga, a 60-year-old sari-sari store operator in Caloocan City, who has been living with hypertension for over 20 years. In a phone interview, she said that the VAT exemption will help her “save around P500 per month on her medication.”

“Malaking tulong ito para sa akin, lalo na at senior citizen na ko na umaasa lamang sa konting pension at malliit na kita sa tindahan (This is a big help for me, especially since I am a senior citizen relying only on my small pension and a little income from my sari-sari store),” Gonzaga said. “Mas magiging mura na ang gamot ko kaya bawas na sa intindihin (It is now more affordable to buy my medication without having to worry about the cost).”

It can be recalled that the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) has exempted a number of medications from VAT. This includes medicines for cancer, diabetes, hypertension, tuberculosis, kidney disease, mental illness and other diseases. 

The list of VAT-exempt medicines was expanded in Revenue Memorandum Circular 72-2023, which added 59 new medicines to the list. The updated list of VAT-exempt medicines is available on the BIR and Department of Health websites.

Another person who is grateful for the VAT exemption is Rhodelia Divina, a 60-year-old government worker in Quezon City.

“Mas mabuti kung gayon para mas magiging mura ang mga gamot. Mas mabuti na rin ‘yan kahit maliit lang ang maintenance ko at hindi mabigat sa bulsa. (It would be better then, so that drugs would be cheaper. It is still better for me even though I only spend little for my maintenance medicine, at least it will be easier on the budget),” said Divina, who spends close to P5 everyday to control her blood pressure.

“Mas mabuti pa nga kung pati presyo ng mga antibiotics ay maibaba rin nila, ‘yun kasi ang mahal. Kapar bumaba ang malalaking presyo ng gamot ay susunod na rin ang mea mas murang gambot (It's even better if they lower the price of antibiotics, because that's what's expensive. As the prices of expensive medicines drops, the cheaper gambots will also follow),” she added.

Susan De Leon, a senior information officer at the Philippine Information Agency National Capital Region, who also spends close to P10,000 for her daily medicines, said the discount will be a huge relief.

“Favorable ‘yan para sa mga senior citizens at kahit sa ordinaryong mamamayan dahil ang mahal ng gamot. Kapag senior citizen ka at PWD (person with disability) biro mo, ang laki ng matitipid mo dahil on top of the 20 percent discount, meron pang less pa ang pang-maintenance. Kaya nga maintenance, everyday (That's favorable for senior citizens and even ordinary citizens because medicine is expensive. When you are a senior citizen and a PWD, you can save a lot because on top of the 20 percent discount, there is even less cost for maintenance medicines. That's why it is for maintenance, you have to take it everyday),” De Leon, an elderly cancer survivor said.

“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Pangulo at sa BIR dahil nagkaroon ng ganyang batas (I am grateful to the President and the BIR for having such a law),” she added.

Here are some specific examples of medicines that have been exempted from VAT:

  • Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Lantus (insulin glargine), a long-acting insulin used to treat diabetes
  • Lisinopril, a blood pressure medication
  • Sertraline, an antidepressant
  • Rifampin, an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis
  • Metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes

About the Author

Kate Shiene Austria

Information Officer III

Information Officer III under the Creative and Production Services Division of the Philippine Information Agency. 

Feedback / Comment

Get in touch