Press Release
November 10, 2008

Legarda Lauds Senate Approval on Third Reading of BFAD Bill

Senate Loren Legarda thanked her colleagues at the Senate for the speedy approval of Senate Bill No. 2645, the Food, Drugs, Cosmetics and Devices Administration (FDCDA) Act of 2008.

Legarda, principal author of SB 2645 expressed alarm over the inability of the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), the national agency responsible for ensuring the safety, purity and quality of foodstuffs and drugs, to fully protect consumers from the current milk crisis. "This crisis has shown the need for a stronger BFAD", she said.

BFAD has been wildly criticized for its delayed testing for melamine of milk and other daily products. Complaining of being understaffed, the BFAD released the result of its tests it conducted on milk products only last Friday. Two milk products from China, Greenfood Yili Fresh Milk and Mengniu Drink, tested positive for melamine.

The proposed FDCDA Act of 2008 seeks to restructure the BFAD, strengthen its regulatory capacity, establish adequate testing laboratories and field offices, and upgrade its human resource complement. Labels and devices, medical, radiation, and all other health-related devices are to be regulated. It will also impose penalties for violations of its rules and regulations.

"We should make sure that adulterated, counterfeited, misbranded or unregistered food and medicine, in short dangerous products, are out of the reach of our children and off our supermarkets and pharmacy shelves," Legarda said.

Legarda also warded off apprehensions that the strengthened food and drugs regulatory body might unduly restrain trade and access to food and health products. "This proposed law will aid in ensuring that cheap medicines are effective, safe, and of high-quality," she said, endorsing the bill as a complement to the Cheaper Medicines Act, enacted earlier this year, which seeks to lower the cost of medicines.

Legarda had already filed in September 2007 Senate Bill No. 1652, a bill proposing the restructuring and strengthening of the BFAD, even before the milk crisis arose. SB 2645 substituted SB 1652.

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