Philippines To Have Cheaper Medicines Soon

October 2, 2007 at 7:27 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 02, 2007) – The Philippine Senate has on Tuesday passed on second reading the proposed Quality Affordable Medicines Act of 2007.

Sen. Mar Roxas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce, has sponsored the bill.

Committee Report No. 6, which was filed by the Senate Committees on Trade and Commerce and on Health and Demography, was signed by 17 senators who are members of the two committees. It recommends policy tools seeking access to quality, affordable medicines under the substitute Senate Bill No. 1658.

“Today, we in the Senate have the opportunity to deliver a powerful message that despite the raging controversies, we are immersed foremost in the business of the people,” Roxas said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

“All the tools needed to make medicines more affordable are already in this bill. All of these provisions are in accordance with international best practices and with current laws,” Roxas added.

First among these measures, he said, are the proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Code which seek to allow the parallel importation of more affordable medicines from abroad.

And to support the generics industry by adopting the “early working” principle and to disallow the grant of new patents on grounds of “new use” and give ample muscle to the government through a framework for government use and compulsory licensing.

“Ultimately, it will be the depth and strength of the administration’s political will that would decide the fate of these tools,” Roxas said. “Other countries have used the same tools with undeniable success. They have amended their patent laws to adopt internationally accepted best practices that have made medicines more affordable and accessible.”

The committees also recommend strengthening the Bureau of Food and Drug to serve as a counterfoil to attempts to bring in fake or substandard medicines by allowing BFAD to retain its operating income from fees and other charges so it could upgrade its facilities.

The substitute bill also reiterates the President’s power, patterned after the Price Act, to impose drug price ceilings in times of calamity, public health emergencies, illegal price manipulation and other instances of unreasonable drug price hikes.

The committee report also recommends the creation of a Congressional Oversight Committee on Quality Affordable Medicines, and allocating an initial P25 million to the Department of Health for the implementation of these measures.

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