Press Release
February 22, 2010


The Cheaper Medicines Law made medicine price reduction a mandatory, not optional, program of the government and provided for shields against corruption of the regulatory process.

Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Senator Mar Roxas said Congress' decision to reject the lobbying by Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron for a new Drug Price Regulatory Board cut away a new layer of bureaucracy that, like other agencies involved in market and price regulation, would have been exposed to corruption and political pressure.

Roxas said giving the Department of Health and the Office of the President the responsibility to determine what essential medicines must be subjected to price ceilings gave little space, if any, for lobbying from multinational drug firms.

He pointed out that sufficient price regulation safeguards were written into the law to ensure that the DOH and the President do not abuse the powers vested on them.

"Naging matigas ang Senado at Kamara na hindi tanggapin ang pagla-lobby ni Biron para sa drug regulatory board dahil nakita naming magiging mas madali ang lobbying para manipulahin pa rin ang presyo ng gamot sa ngalan ng regulasyon (The Senate and the House stood firm against the lobbying of Biron for the drug regulatory board because we saw it would make it easier to manipulate drug prices in the name of regulation)," he said.

But Roxas said he believes Biron's 'concern' about bringing down the prices of expensive medicines was all a show as it was in Biron's interest to put in place a new agency that regulates the drug industry that could be influenced by him and other politicians.

He noted that Philippine Pharmawealth Inc. owned by Biron and his family was engaged in the selling and supply of cheap but substandard medicines to government agencies as shown by records of the Department of Health.

In fact, Pharmawealth was suspended by the DOH from getting medicine supply contracts with government hospitals after it was found guilty of selling 500 ampules of methylergometrine maleate to the Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital in Tagbilaran City, Bohol that when used led to the death of 1 patient and forced doctors to put four others to undergo emergency medical operations.

"Kaya 'di kumakagat ang publiko sa binebenta niyang regulatory board ay nakikipag-plastikan lang itong si Biron. Sa totoo lang, may record na siyang nagbebenta ang Pharmawealth ng mga cheap pero mababa ang kalidad na mga gamot (The reason why the public does not believe his yarn of a regulatory board is because he and his Pharmawealth already has a record of selling supposedly cheap but sub-standard drugs)," Roxas said.

Roxas said he was also saddened that while he was pushing hard for President Arroyo to use her powers to force pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices through a list of essential medicines to be placed under the maximum retail price (MRP) provision of the Cheaper Medicines Law, his critics like Biron and his fellow members of the pharmaceutical industry subjected Roxas to an intense black propaganda campaign without letup.

Roxas vowed that his political critics' effort to subject him to black propaganda will not deter him from fulfilling his promise to lower prices of more essential medicines.

"Sa ilalim ng administrasyong Aquino-Roxas, makaaasa ang lahat na ang uunahin ko't aatupagin na ipatupad agad ang pagpapababa pa lalo ng mga presyo ng mahahalagang gamot (Under an Aquino-Roxas administration, my first and most important task is to do something to further lower prices of essential medicines)," Roxas said.

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