Press Release
February 2, 2009


Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas today said the Department of Health (DOH) should make good its promise to implement the price regulation provisions of the Universally Accessible, Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act by releasing its list of drugs and recommended maximum retail prices (MRPs) at the start of this month.

"Mahalaga na pababain na ang presyo ng gamot gamit ang bagong Cheap Medicines Law, at nangako ang DOH na ilalabas na nila ang listahan ng mga presyo. Pero nasaan na ito? (It is important to bring down prices using the new Cheap Medicines Law, and the DOH promised that they will release their list of drugs with MRP at the start of this month. Well, where's the list?)" the main author of the Cheaper Medicines Law said.

"Mabagal at malabnaw ang pagkilos ng gobyerno kaya kinukulit natin ito (The government is slow in implementing the law. That's why we need to persist in pressuring the government to implement it now)," he stressed.

Roxas said the DoH must be made to account for its failure to fully implement the law, which he noted took 10 years to shepherd through Congress and hurdled a strong lobby by powerful multinational pharmaceutical companies.

He pointed to Chapter 3 on "Drugs and Medicines Price Regulation" of Republic Act No. 9502, which empowers the President, upon recommendation of the DOH Secretary, to impose maximum retail prices for all vital medicines. The DOH is authorized to establish the price regulation system within 120 days after the law becomes effective, or since November 4 last year when it issued the implementing rules and regulation.

"Lahat ng kasangkapan, lahat ng kapangyarihan para pababain ang presyo ng gamot ay ibinigay na namin sa ehekutibo. Ano pa ang hinihintay nila? (All tools and powers needed to lower the prices of medicines have been vested with the executive. What are they waiting for?)," the Ilonggo senator said. "Hindi na puwedeng patagalin pa ang paghihirap ng mamamayan. Ngayon na, ipatupad na ang batas (The Arroyo government has been in power for eight years. In fact, the Estrada government has put in place a program for quality and affordable medicines. We should not prolong the people's pain any longer. The law must be implemented now)."

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce said he will ask the Quality Affordable Medicines Oversight Committee to convene and exercise its oversight powers if the Arroyo Administration continues to drag its feet on the issue.

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