Press Release
May 22, 2008

Approved bill already transmitted to the Palace:
Pia urges GMA to immediately sign Cheaper Meds Bill

Senator Pia S. Cayetano today called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to immediately sign the proposed "Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008," a day after the measure approved by both chambers of Congress was officially transmitted to the Palace.

Cayetano found it unusual that the bill certified urgent by the President remains unsigned almost a month since its final version was ratified by members of the Senate and the House of Representatives on April 29, 2008.

"I would like to think that the President will stand by her word that she is for this bill. It took Congress more than three years to have it passed. Now the fate of this landmark measure is right in her hands," said Cayetano, Senate Committee Chair on Health and Demography and principal coauthor of the measure.

An inquiry by Cayetano's office revealed that the official copy of the bicameral version was transmitted from the Senate President's office on May 8 to the House of Representatives for signing by its Speaker and Secretary General.

The same document was signed and returned to the Senate Bills and Index from the House twelve days later, or on May 20, after which it was transmitted to Malacañang through the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) by yesterday morning, May 21.

Cayetano belittled the pressure allegedly being exerted by US lobby groups on the Philippine government to derail the enactment of the measure.

She reiterated her stand that "the approved version is replete with all the tools that developing countries are allowed to utilize to bring down drug prices in conformity with the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement under the World Trade Organization (WTO)," she said.

Moreover, Cayetano vowed to continue to work on several measures to complement the cheaper medicines bill, particularly the proposal to strengthen the capability of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) to effectively monitor and screen the quality and efficacy of both branded and generic drugs in the market, whether imported or manufactured locally.

She said several 'complementary measures' are needed to make other aspects of health care affordable and accessible to ordinary Filipinos.

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