The House of Representatives may soften its stand on the controversial cheaper medicines bill. In an interview, Speaker Jose de Venecia urged the proponents of the Cheaper Medicines Act to consider the request of doctors to remove the provision on the “prescription of generic names of drugs.” De Venecia already said he talked to the principal author of the bill, Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron, to open a dialogue with doctors.
“I talked to him [Biron] over the phone to consider or include the request of the doctors in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and in Metro Manila,”de Venecia said.
But de Venecia said that doctors should also appeal to senators since the bill will be acted upon by the both chambers of Congress.
Members of the Philippine Medical Association earlier threatened to stage a “hospital holiday” to express their objection to a provision of the bill, which mandates doctors to prescribe only generic names of drugs.
The doctors claimed that they also have to prescribe branded drugs during certain occasions.
On the other hand, Biron said that among the salient features of the bill, the provisions on the prescription of generic drugs could be easily reconciled or resolved. --Maricel V. Cruz
GMA vows passage of cheap drugs bill
President Arroyo on Thursday vowed to compete with international drug companies in an attempt to expand low-cost medicine program of the government.
Mrs. Arroyo stressed she would not let giant drug laboratories to get in the way of the passage of cheap medicine bill.
Mrs. Arroyo issued the statement following attempt of Pfizer Philippines to derail passage of House Bill 6035, or the Half Price Medicine Bill, during the second day of the special session of Congress Tuesday.
With the success of the government’s half-priced medicine program the President is determined to expand it so more poor people could benefit from the program.
In a roundtable in Malacañang Thursday afternoon, Mrs. Arroyo said the program could include any drugstore willing to sell the commonly used medicines at cheaper prices.
“The reason why we asked the Philippine International Trading Corp. to buy these cheap medicines is because we want to make sure any drugstore can have it,” Mrs. Arroyo said.
Rep. Teddy Locsin of Makati City during the discussion explained that parallel importation of patented medicine was permitted in the original bill, “what the House did was to expand it,” to accommodate larger market of distributors. BY Sam Mediavilla, Reporter