Press Release
September 20, 2007


Some 19 years after the enactment of the Generics Act of 1988 aimed at bringing down the prices of medicines, generic drugs are still not as widely prescribed by medical practitioners and used by the general public as compared to branded medicines.

This was admitted today by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., principal author of the Generics Act (Republic Act 6675), as he said "we have yet to fully realize and completely accomplish the mandate of the Generics Act."

Pimentel said this law was envisioned to be the vital instrument in addressing the basic health needs of Filipinos through effective, yet inexpensive and affordable medicines.

Generic counterparts of branded drugs are far lower in prices, he said. This is because generics are not covered by patent protection and which are labelled solely by their international non-proprietary or generic names.

"However, it is a sad reality that generic drugs have a very low acceptability to the medical practitioners and the general public as reflected in the sales and use," the senator said.

He cited a report of the Philippine International Trading Corporation that "true generics account for a measly 4-5 percent of medicines sold in the country while it is more than 50 percent in the United States."

The PITC, the state firm tasked with importing quality but affordable drugs from India and other countries, also reported that of around 600 drugs currently in the essential drug list, only 200 are being made by local companies. The other 400 off-patent drugs do not have generic counterparts.

In an article entitled "Far from Cure" in the World Mission Magazine, Dr. Teresa de la Cruz wrote: "Despite higher prices, branded products continue to be preferred by most Filipinos. Only 10 to 15 percent of the Filipino market purchase the lower-priced unbranded drugs. In comparison, in the United States, as much as 40 percent of the public prefer the same generic drug counterparts."

By industry estimates, De la Cruz said as much as 40 percent to 60 percent of the actual chemical drug costs can go into advertising and retailing of drug products.

The Department of Health however cited a 2006 survey of the Social Weather Stations showing that 55 percent of Filipino people are buying generic drugs.

Pimentel challenged the government to intensify the campaign to educate the people about the advantages of shifting to generic drugs for curing ailments.

"There must be a renewed advocacy and a continuous information campaign on generic drugs as an alternative of equal efficacy to the more expensive brand name drugs, and for a continuing education and training for medical and allied medical professions on drugs with generic names," he said.

Pimentel noted that medicines account for as much as 40 to 45 percent of the total health expenditures of Filipino families, which dissipates the much-needed financial resources for other basic family needs.

He encouraged the current intervention efforts being undertaken by the government reduce prices of medicines including parallel drug importation and the establishment of Botika ng Bayan and Botika ng Barangay all over the country.

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