DOH Chief Hits Drug Companies

Health Secretary Alberto Romualdez accused multinational drug companies in the country of derailing the government's efforts to bring down the prices of medicine and make them accessible to more Filipinos.

Romualdez lashed out at the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) for engaging in "double talk" when it claimed that its concern for the health and welfare of the public was the main reason it opposed the importation of cheap drugs by the Department of Health (DOH).

"They claim that they are concerned with the health of the people yet they exhaust all means to stop the government from bringing in products that may compete in price with their own costly brands," Romualdez said in a statement.

He added, "Those companies can opt to sell larger volumes of their products at lower prices to more Filipinos in need of medicine rather than sell small volumes at high prices to the few who can afford them."

"We're not asking them to make less money. We're just asking them to redesign their business practices to consider the needs of the Filipino people," Romualdez added.

Romualdez vouched for the quality of the imported medicines that the DOH is selling at seven government hospitals nationwide.

Pharmaceutical firms have repeatedly expressed apprehension over the possible entry of fake and substandard medicines through parallel importation.

"No other agency or company has been authorized to import these medicines, nor is any pharmacy authorized to sell them," Romualdez said. He said the importation was subjected to the requirements set by the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

The medicines are imported from India by the Philippine International Trading Corp. They are available at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila; East Avenue Medical Center and Philippine Children's Medical Center, both in Quezon City; Rizal Medical Center in Pasig; Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City; Davao Regional Hospital in Tagum City; and Davao Medical Center in Davao City.

Romualdez said the parallel importation was not meant to put pharmaceutical firms out of business. He said the entire inventory is valued at only P1.5 million.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, January 4, 2001

CPT Home IP and Healthcare CPT page on the Philipines