Roxas: We are ready to pass medicines bill

Sunday, February 3, 2008 | posted in , , , | 0 comments

Senator Mar Roxas affirmed that the Bicameral Conference Committee on the Quality Affordable Medicines Bill convening this Wednesday are "ready and willing" to pass the bill soonest, as he allayed fears that the House Speakership row will impede speedy action by the legislature on the urgent health measure.

Roxas also brushed off concerns that contentious provisions in the Senate and House versions would set back the bill's timetable, emphasizing that "80% to 90%" of standing provisions are "easily reconcilable" if all sides set their sights on the common target of public interest.

"The need of Filipinos for quality and affordable medicines is much more urgent than any of our disagreements,” he said.

Roxas lauded the members of the House panel and the proponents of the bill in the lower chamber for working with the Senate in the spirit of common interest as he shot down speculations that the current leadership row in the House will set back the bill's timetable.

We are glad that our counterparts in the House—led by Rep. Antonio Alvarez (House Committee on Trade chairman)—are as gung-ho as we are in having this bill passed. We are not going to be hampered by politics,” he said.

Hindi tungkol sa pulitika ang panukalang batas na ito kundi sa malubhang pangangailangan ni Juan dela Cruz para sa de-kaledad at abot-kayang gamot. Huwag sanang makasagabal ang anumang kaguluhan ngayon sa Kamara sa ating layunging maipasa kaagad ang Affordable Medicines Bill,” he said.

Senate Bill No. 1658 proposes amendments to the Intellectual Property Code to allow parallel importation of affordable medicines from other countries, and to help generics firms to develop quality and affordable generic medicines.

The bill also contains provisions allowing the President to impose drug price ceilings in times of calamity, public health emergencies, events that cause artificial and unreasonable price hikes, the prevalence of illegal price manipulation and whenever prices have risen to unreasonable levels.

The bill also recommends allowing the Bureau of Food and Drugs to retain its operating income to upgrade its facilities and human resources.

The Bicameral Conference Committee will formally meet on Wednesday starting 9:00 a.m. at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City; following a pre-bicam meeting of the Senate and House panels to clean up and focus the agenda.

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