Press Release
June 12, 2008

ROXAS: BFAD, PITC MUST SHAPE UP IN IMPLEMENTING MEDS LAW LOCAL PHARMA, DRUGSTORE OWNERS CALL FOR REFORMS

Senator Mar Roxas joined the call of the local pharmaceutical industry and drugstore owners for the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) as well as the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) to shape up in order to properly implement the newly signed Universally Accessible, Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act.

Roxas, principal author of the law, noted how local generics companies, through the Philippine Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry (PCPI), have aired their grievances over the "inefficiencies" of the BFAD, whose mandate is to monitor and regulate the quality of drugs out in the market. The senator has been holding a series of discussions with stakeholders in the pharmaceutical industry.

"Halos isang taon o higit pa rito bago makakuha ng certificate of product registration mula sa BFAD. Dahil dito, kahit may gamot na pumasok dito na mas abot-kayang presyo, ay hindi ito mabebenta agad-agad, kung hindi ayusin ng BFAD ang kanilang proseso," Roxas said after a meeting today with PCPI officials.

He said that a lot of the inefficiencies could have been a result of the BFAD's inadequate budget in the past years. This is remedied by a provision in the new law that would allow the agency to retain its earnings, worth about P150 million annually.

"We have now given them more money to expand their resources," he said.

"Mahalaga pa rin na kumonsulta ang BFAD sa iba't ibang sektor para malaman kung saan dapat gamitin ang perang ito," he added.

In the said meeting, PCPI members raised their concerns and complaints about BFAD, including inefficiency and too stringent processes in dealing with local drug manufacturers. For instance, it takes too long—12 to 18 months—for a drug registration to be approved.

The Liberal Party President also discussed with the Drug Stores Association of the Philippines (DSAP) how to best implement the law, and learned that they have had problems in acquiring medicines from the Philippine International Trading Corp.

"There are some popular medicines that the smaller drugstores have a hard time buying or get these delayed, and the PITC needs to take stock of the situation and make sure it's capable of meeting the increased orders that will come as a result of the Affordable Medicines Law," he said.

"PITC is not out to make a profit, or compete with other distributors. It must concentrate on selling drugs whose local prices are at a high disparity with prices abroad, and it must sell these as low as possible," he stressed.

He also said the PCPI, DSAP and other groups must also participate in the drafting of the law's implementing rules and regulations, to ensure the law is not weakened as a result.

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