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Roxas urges open talks on Cheap Medicine Bill

SENATOR Mar Roxas said he welcomes fair, open and transparent discussions on the Quality Affordable Medicines bill to create the most effective law to bring down prices of medicines and to ensure the safety of these.
    
“As co-chair of the bicameral panel on the Quality Affordable Medicines bill, I will conduct a fair, open and transparent discussion on all provisions, to ensure that no agenda other than the people’s welfare will prevail,” the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade said.
    

Roxas made the statement in light of the Philippine Medical Association’s (PMA) objection to a provision in the House version of the bill that would prohibit the prescribing of the brand name of a medicine along with their generic name. The Senate version does not contain the said provision.
 
“I urge the proponents of the bill in the Lower House to hold a dialogue with the PMA so that their concerns can be proper
ly addressed before both panels meet to consolidate the two versions. That way, we will be able to come up with the best bill for our people’s urgent needs,” Roxas said.
   
The Senate had passed its version of the Quality Affordable Medicines bill last November 5, while the House passed theirs just last December 20.
    
First among the provisions of the Senate version, Senate Bill No. 1658 are the proposed amendments to the Intellectual Property Code which seek to allow the parallel importation of locally patented drugs and to allow generic manufacturers to test, register, produce patented drugs prior to patent expiry, among others.

Meanwhile, Iloilo Representative Ferjenel G. Biron (4th Dist. Lakas-CMD party) yesterday aired his appeal to his colleagues in the medical profession not to abandon their sworn duty to treat, manage and save lives of patients.
   
Biron, principal author of the Cheaper Medicines Act, said that at the end of the day, it is the noble intention of our lawmakers which include doctors in the House of Representatives to provide patients with a safe effective and more affordable alternative to our suffering countrymen.
   
He made the statement in view of the plan boycott of the medical doctors who are members of the Philippine Medical Association in protest the amendments to the generic laws.
   
The doctors are against the amendment to Republic Act 6675, Section 33, Sec. 6 (b) which would only allow prescription by medical doctors, dentist and veterinarian of generic names, prohibiting inclusion of brand names. Peoples' Tonight

 

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Deadlock over cheaper drugs bill

Senate, House panels still stuck on "generics-only" provision

THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE of Representatives are still deadlocked over a controversial provision in the proposed "cheaper medicines" law that requires doctors to prescribe only the generic name of drugs.

The Senate panel in the bicameral conference committee have stuck to their position against the so-called "generics-only" provision. "I believe it is still the doctor who knows what his patient needs," said Sen.Manuel Roxas II, principal author of the Senate version of the law and chairman of the Senate bicameral panel.

He said the existing Generics Act already requires doctors to write down a medicine's generic name in their prescriptions at the same time allows doctors to recommend particular brands."We don't want to merely pass on the problem of selection of the branded drugs from the doctor to the (drugstore) sales girl," Roxas said.

In an earlier interview over radio, Senate president Manuel Villar said he was willing to accept the House version of the bill, including its "generics-only provision."

"As the president of the Senate, I am willing to accept the version (of the House) just to have this bill on cheaper medicines be passed into law," he said."

Compromise

As a compromise during the last bicameral meeting, the House panel led by Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez has suggested a three-year "sunset provision" so that the generics-only provision would only take effect three years after the law was passed.

The Senate and House bicameral panels have already agreed on all other provisions of the cheaper medicines law, which mainly aims to bring down the cost of medicines in the country through the parallel importation of cheaper medicines from abroad.

Both panels have also agreed on empowering the President upon the recommendation of the health secretary to impose drug price controls in case of a national emergency.

"We agree that prices of medicines will be lowered by increasing competition locally, by bringing in more affordable drugs from abroad and by easing the present restrictions for generics manufacturer," Roxas said.

Disadvantages

Sen. Pilar Juliana "Pia" Cayetano has also been adamant against the generics-only provision. She said local drug companies would be put at a disadvantage since multinational drug companies could offer drug outlets lower price mar-ups for their products.

The Philippines Medical Association, the country's biggest organization of doctors, has earlier threatened to go on boycott in protest of the generics only provision.

Roxas said a technical working group composed of Senate and House staff would work during the congressional recess to finalize details of the proposed law. Congress resumes sessions on April 28, 2008.

The proposed cheaper medicines law has been discussed since the previous 13th Congress. Dona Pazzibugan/ Philippine Daily Inquirer

 

Villar to heed doctors’ plea on cheaper medicines bill

MANILA, Philippines -- Senate President Manuel Villar said Friday he would look into the provision of the Quality Affordable Medicine bill which sought to bar doctors from prescribing branded drugs to their patients.

Villar, in an interview with private dzMM radio, said that he would ask the ongoing bicameral conference committee tackling the cheaper medicine bill to heed the Philippine Medical Association’s (PMA) plea that the questioned provision be deleted.

While he claimed that he usually did not interfere in the affairs of the bicameral committee, Villar said he would look into the measure seeking the mandatory prescription of generic drugs “so that this would not be a problem to doctors.”

“For me, it is not important if the Senate or the House version is approved. What is important is that the version that will help the public should prevail. But the welfare of doctors is also important to me,” said Villar.

Senator Mar Roxas, the main author of the bill in the Senate, said he preferred that the matter be tackled in a “fair, open and transparent” manner to create the most effective law to bring down prices of medicine and to ensure that they are safe.

“As co-chair of the bicameral panel on the Quality Affordable Medicines bill, I will conduct a fair, open and transparent discussion on all provisions, to ensure that no agenda other than the people’s welfare will prevail,” the chair of the Senate committee on trade said in a statement.

“I urge the proponents of the bill in the lower house to hold a dialogue with the PMA so that their concerns can be properly addressed before both panels meet to consolidate the two versions. That way, we will be able to come up with the best bill for our people’s urgent needs,” Roxas said.

Doctors belonging to the PMA have threatened to walk out of their jobs if Congress did not delete a provision in the pending cheaper medicine bill which forces physicians to prescribe only generic names of drugs to their patients.

The Senate passed its version of the bill last November 5, while the House passed theirs on December 20.

Doctors currently prescribe both branded and generic alternatives to customers but the House version, if upheld, will bar this practice. The Senate version does not have this provision.By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Beverly T. Natividad Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 01/18/2008