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Stroke victims can get free medicines

Patients who have symptoms of stroke have been urged by the Department of Health (DOH) to immediately go to the nearest government hospitals to receive free emergency medicine.

Stroke or brain attack is an ailment caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain.

In a press conference yesterday, Health spokesperson Eric Tayag disclosed that the agency will now give free “alteplase”, an expensive yet life-saving medicine to stroke patients. He said the presence of free injectable medicine, will be of great in the Philippines where stroke remains the no. 2 leading cause of death, as it kills six in every 10 Filipinos.

“The DoH procured these medicines in bulk and the DoH pays only P30,000 per vial, which is less than P50,000 when this is bought in pharmacies,” said Tayag.

The agency has allocated P30 million to procure medicines that can benefit 1,000 patients for the year 2016 alone. The free alteplase will be made available in 26 government hospitals across the country, which have been qualified for having acute stroke units.

However, the medicine – which is a tissue plasminogen activator – should be given within 4 ½ hours after seeing symptoms of stroke. This is the reason why the patient must be brought to the health facility immediately.

To be able to bring the patient within the first hours of stroke, the public must be wary of the symptoms of a brain attack by keeping in mind the F.A.S.T. acronym. F.A.S.T. refers to Face drooping or weakness of the face; Arm weakness on one side of the body; and Speech difficulty or slurring.

“T in F.A.S.T. means Time to go to the Emergency Room within two hours if you experience any of the three mentioned symptoms,” Tayag said.

The doctors will first examine the patient to determine the type of stroke. (CHARINA ECHALUCE)