Cheaper medicines for Filipinos? Naturally!


President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed into law today, June 6 Manila time, Republic Act 9502, the ‘Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008’ while visiting Santa Cruz, Laguna (ANN, author not named, abs-cbnnews.com). The law is expected to ‘that will cut down high prices of medicines in the country.’

This new law ‘aims to bring down the price of medicines by encouraging more competition in the local market through parallel importation of cheaper but quality drugs’ (Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, inquirer.net). With the Generics Law and the new law, ‘We have completed, I believe,’ GMA said, ‘our legislative reforms in bringing affordable medicines to the people.’

However, Surigao del Sur Representative Philip Pichay says RA5092 was rendered ‘practically useless’ because of the removal of the ‘generics only’ provision (ANN, May 8, inquirer.net). Indeed, according to the new law, physicians may prescribe non-generic drugs. It is well-known, of course, that non-generic drugs are much more expensive than generic drugs.

GMA gave the Department of Health 120 days to come up with the Implementing Rules & Regulations (IRR). That is to say, without the IRR, the new law is on hold. In effect, the IRR interprets the law for everyone.

In the meantime, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd, India’s third largest pharmaceutical firm has been reported to enter the Philippine market soon through a distribution deal with Britton Marketing Corp, a local company (ANN, May 11, tradingmarkets.com). Dr Reddy’s may also put up a plant in Bulacan within 2 years.

I am sure, sooner or later, parallel importation of relatively cheaper equivalent drugs of the same or higher quality will become a reality in the near future with the passage of the new law. There will be kinks in the implementation of the Medicines Law of 2008, but already it has broken the monopoly of certain sectors importing and/or manufacturing drugs in the Philippines.

Drugs are a P100 billion business in the Philippines (Tony Lopez, manilatimes.net). Among other companies, n 2006, Mercury Drug sold P58.5 billion and made P1.49 billion in profit; United Lab sold P21.98 billion and made P1.66 billion net. 'Did you know that drug companies sued the Philippines for importing cheaper medicines?' Lopez asks.

Be that as it may, I’m less interested in healing via modern medical solutions and more interested in healing via traditional medical options such as acupressure, Ayurveda, hydrotherapy, sauna bath, Siddha, yoga, fasting and walking. I believe the human body has the miraculous powers to heal itself if we help it along. Natural healing means cheaper medicines for Filipinos. Meditating on the creations of God, the beauty of Nature will help in the healing process.

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