Press Release
March 14, 2010


A Villar-Legarda administration will make possible not just cheap but free medicines for the poor.

NP-NPC-LDP vice presidential bet Loren Legarda announced this advocacy while campaigning this weekend in Samar and Leyte.

Legarda said she was swamped by complaints that prices of medicines, including the essential life-saving items, remain high despite the passage of Cheaper Medicine Act (RA 9502).

"Medicines are still expensive despite the Cheaper Medicine Act, which is another vice presidential candidate's battle cry - although essentially fake. The law is a watered-down version, a travesty and betrayal of people's trust," she said.

After discussing the proposal with PhilHealth, Legarda said she believes government can afford to provide free medicines for the D and E sectors of society because there are enough government funds, barring graft and corruption.

She added, the provincial government in Bukidnon has free medicine and free hospitalization program for the poor. "If Bukidnon can do it for the poor, why not in other places of the country?" the senator said.

The senator said she also supported the original maximum retail price scheme on medicines of the House version of the cheaper medicine law, as sponsored by former congressman and now Iloilo Vice Gov. Rex Suplico and later espoused by Rep. Ferjenel Biron, which will benefit the non-indigents. She filed a senate counterpart bill adopting the scheme.

Suplico and, later, Biron, proposed automatic price regulation for basic medicines, which would have brought down the price of 1,500 items in the Philippine National Drug Formulary. So far, they stressed, the emasculated cheaper medicine law only reduced the price of 22 items, although the Health department, in an independent move, seeks to cut the price of 25 more.

Biron and Suplico clarified that Sen. Mar Roxas only filed a bill (SB 101) seeking amendments to the intellectual property law which would result in parallel importation of medicines, and which would have benefited multinational drug companies.

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