Drug maker asks SC to reconsider ruling allowing importation of drugs patented by pharmaceutical firms

June 11, 2009 11:54 am 

MANILA, June 11 — A major drug manufacturer has filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) asking for a reconsideration of its earlier decision allowing the importation of drugs already patented by large pharmaceutical companies.

In a motion for reconsideration, Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) asked the SC to revisit Republic Act 9502, otherwise known as the "Universally Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008", saying that the May 2009 SC decision puts the public at risk by allowing importation of medicines that did not go through the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD).

"RA 9502 does not give private parties an unbridled or unqualified right to engage in the parallel importation of drugs or medicine," the petitioner said.

"Only with the proper government sanctions can medicines and drugs circulate the market. We cannot afford to take any risk, for the life and health of the citizenry are as precious as the existence of the State," GSK said in its motion.

GSK further said the SC's ruling has weakened the power of BFAD.

"It is one thing to uphold the right of the public to quality and affordable medicines. In doing so, however, we must be careful that it would not ultimately result in the prejudice of the very public whose interest the State aims to protect," the petitioner said.

In May 2009, the SC ruled that importation of patented drug by local drug companies is allowed by law and cannot be penalized under the Special Law on Counterfeit Drugs (SLCD).

In a 13-page decision by the SC penned by now retired Associate Justice Dante Tinga, the SC stopped the government from prosecuting a local drug store owner for violation of Republic Act 8203, otherwise known as the SLCD.

The SC issued a temporary restraining order against the lower court.

GSK and the Office of the Solicitor General appealed the ruling, arguing that Article 13 Section 11 of the 1987 Constitution works to the oppression and unlawful to the property rights of legitimate manufacturers.

However, the SC said that the Cheap Medicines Act amended the Intellectual Property Code as it allows third persons the right to import drugs or medicines whose patent were registered in the Philippines.

The SC said that importing unregistered imported drugs is also confirmed by the implementing rules and regulations of the Cheaper Medicines Act which declassify unregistered products as "counterfeit" under the SLCD. (PNA)



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