Press Release
October 9, 2007


Senator Mar Roxas welcomed President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's certifying as urgent Senate Bill No. 1658, the "Quality Affordable Medicines Act of 2007," which the Senate passed on second reading last week.

"The certification of SB 1658 shows underscores the urgency of our measure to lower the cost of medicines in our country. This is a cause that deserves bipartisan, bicameral support," Roxas, sponsor of the bill, said.

The Senate had received today the President's letter, which certified SB 1658 "to address public emergency arising from the urgent need to amend certain provisions of the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines in order to protect public health by creating an environment that will lower the prices of, as well as ensure open and adequate access to, drugs and medicines particularly by the poor and underprivileged who can hardly afford to purchase patented drugs and medicines because of exorbitant and prohibitive prices."

Roxas expressed his confidence that the House would follow suit and approve its version of the bill, and that a bicameral conference will be able to reconcile the House and Senate versions prior to the Holiday season.

"We in the Senate remain open to the ideas of the House, and we will enter bicameral talks with the end-goal of making the best bill for our people," he said.

SB 1658 seeks to amend the Intellectual Property Code in order to allow the parallel importation of more affordable medicines from abroad; 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.

The bill also strengthens 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 and beef up its human resources.

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.

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