BAGUIO CITY — A top health official said the behavior of doctors and government health workers in prescribing medicines would be changed with the Generics Law amended by the Cheaper Medicines Act.
On top of this, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III appeared optimistic the price of medicines in the country would go down dramatically with the release lately of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Cheaper Medicines Act.
“Let us admit that many of our medical professionals have been hostage to multinational corporations,” Duque told Baguio-based press in a media forum Thursday at the opening of a national conference for the health department and attached agencies here.
Generics medicines, which are usually priced lower than branded ones, did not enjoy support from many health workers with the wrong notion these are inferior drugs, according to Duque.
“Walang kwenta ang generics,” (Generics are useless) is a wrong belief, said Duque, adding a Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) approval is enough to assure the public of the quality, safeness and efficacy of the medicines they get.
With the law taking effect on July 4 and the IRR on November 21, Duque said, however, the public may not see the price change at once. He quipped, “We shall work fast towards it.”
The Department of Health (DOH) also envisions to improve the availability of cheaper medicines by licensing non-traditional outlets like supermarkets and village sari-sari stores for over-the-counter drugs.
The health department will also embark on bulk buying medicines to make the price lower, according to Duque.
Parallel importation of patented drugs will also be encouraged, besides the promotion of generics.
Earlier, local health officials admitted other third world countries offer medicines at prices way below the current retail prices here.
Dr. Florence Reyes of the City Health Office, in an earlier press conference, was quoted as saying the price of medicines to allay pains from ailments arising from HIV-AIDS from India are far cheaper than those sold locally.
Cabotaje confirmed this in another press briefing.
Duque was happy over the passage of the law and its IRR after major stakeholders in the drug industry attempted to block it.
Wait and see
Saying there would be price ceilings as control measure, Duque enjoins the public to wait and see until the law takes effect.
“We have to be patient about its actual effects on the pricing of medicines,” he said admitting it has to go through “the normal government procedures and processes.”
To date, DOH is coming out with a list of priority drugs to be regulated and this includes medicines for hypertension, diabetes, asthma and cancer. # Lyn V. Ramo