Roxas optimistic about medicines bicam meeting on Wednesday

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | posted in , , , , | 0 comments

Senator Mar Roxas foresees no major impediments to the approval of the affordable medicines law this week unless some congressmen maintain a hard-line stance for the inclusion of the generics-only provision.

Roxas, principal author of the proposed Quality Affordable Medicines Act in the Senate and co-chair of the bicameral conference committee on the bill, said both panels will meet on Wednesday to thresh out the final version of the much-awaited measure.

"I am optimistic that an agreement will be reached by Wednesday because we all share the view that this is an urgent, life-saving measure. Hopefully, the House contingent shall have decided to follow the President's advice for them to convert the generics-only provision into a separate bill," he added.

The President of the Liberal Party said both panels will study the recommendations of the technical working group that was formed to consolidate the Senate and House versions of the medicines bill.

Meanwhile, Senator Roxas urged the Department of Health to start working on an action plan to ensure the effective implementation of the Quality Affordable Medicines Act.

The bicameral committee had earlier agreed in the previous meeting that a price regulatory mechanism should be available to the government in case the free market itself is unable to bring down the prices of medicines. The price regulation would be implemented by the President upon recommendation of the Secretary of Health.

"Millions of Filipinos suffering from life-long ailments such as diabetes and hypertension can be the immediate beneficiaries of the Affordable Medicines Law," Roxas pointed out.

The senator noted that medicines for hypertension and diabetes sold locally are many times the cost of their counterparts in other countries such as India. "The same brand, same packaging, and the same formulation of drugs for diabetes and hypertension are sold for far less in other countries. Why should our people continue to suffer from high blood and high prices of medicines when we can stimulate competition by bringing in these cheaper, quality medicines from abroad?"

Roxas described the affordable medicines act as a "legal toolbox to prolong people's lives."

"All the tools to help the executive bring in quality affordable medicines and promote better competition in the pharmaceutical and retail industry are in this measure. This is why I am reiterating my call to our colleagues in the House of Representatives to heed the President's and our people's call for the immediate passage of this important bill," Roxas stressed.

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Kevin Ray N. Chua

Kevin Ray N. Chua is a 19 year-old blogger from Cebu City, Philippines and an IT Student at Cebu Institute of Technology.

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