PGMA may sign EO if drug firms fail to slash meds prices

July 16, 2009 9:23 am 

MANILA, July 16 — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may sign an executive order that will impose maximum price ceilings on essential drugs should pharmaceutical companies fail to voluntary comply in trimming down medicine prices.

Deputy Spokesperson Anthony Golez said in a press briefing that the Cheaper Medicines Law gives President Arroyo the “discretion –but not the obligation– to implement a wide variety of solutions including but not limited to the imposition of maximum price ceilings on medicines.”

President Arroyo last July 8 directed the pharmaceutical companies to trim down prices of some 22 important medicines or maintenance drugs within 10 days.

Golez, pointed out that the signing of an executive order to bring down the prices of essential medicines is just a reserved instrument as prescribed by the Cheaper Medicines Act.

“But it is stated in the law also, that if fair competition is not achieved, then the President may warrant to use the reserve instrument such as the executive order to make sure that prices of medicines are brought down….it is the interest of the President to make sure that all measures can be taken before the executive order is signed,” Golez said.

He added that it in the interest primarily of the poor that government ought to bring down the prices of essential drugs.

Golez, however, noted that government will cut down the prices of essential drugs in a manner that does not shake the confidence of other investors outside the pharmaceutical industry.

“After all, this is a President who is not afraid to be unpopular –whether it is with the surveys or with the drug companies—as long as she is doing the right thing for our people,” Golez added.

He also clarified that it was the pharmaceutical companies who requested for 10 days extension to trim down their prices that was eventually granted by the President.

Golez said that after the extension, he sees no reason why the President will not be obliged to sign the executive order.

He added that it is always the objective of the President since the start of her administration to cut down the prices of medicines citing the setting up of Botika Ng Mga Barangay, the government’s full support for the Generics Act and even the passage of Cheaper Medicines Act.

“Cheaper meds act is an urgent bill of the president just for the record,” Golez said.

Deputy Presidential Spokespersons Undersecretary Lorelie Fajardo earlier said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is ready to revoke the license of drug firms who fail to comply with the deadline set by the President.

President Arroyo last year signed into law RA 9502, or the Universally Accessible, Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008. Under the law, any individual or organization with the Bureau of Food and Drugs may import medicines and sell them at affordable prices to the public. (PNA)

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