Solon warns public about alleged multi-million PR effort to discredit medicines law

Rep. Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya (1st District, Cavite) warned the public not to fall into the web of deceit and desperate hysterics being spun by doomsayers in Congress about the cheaper medicines bill.

"I have received reports that there is a multi-million PR slush fund to discredit the bill and its key authors," Abaya said, adding that this may also be tied to the 2010 elections. Sen. Mar Roxas, the principal author of the medicines bill, is considered among the frontrunners in the presidential race in 2010.
Abaya, one of the co-authors of the House bill, expressed his full support to the joint efforts of House trade and commerce chair Antonio Alvarez and his Senate counterpart, Senator Mar Roxas in consolidating both versions of the bill.

"Millions of ailing Filipinos have much to lose if this urgent health bill is delayed further or derailed permanently. In the 13th Congress, the House failed to pass this measure due to lack of quorum. Today, some legislators are out to discredit this measure and its proponents by saying that it is "watered-down". The truth is that people with vested interests are scared that the medicines law would actually work and thus lead to drastic cuts in the earnings of pharmaceutical companies," Abaya added.

"On the contrary, precisely because their recommendations were ignored, we now have a stronger, more cohesive bill," Abaya stressed.
The congressman from Cavite noted that the generics-only provision was dropped upon the request of the President with the Senate agreeing to consider this as part of a separate bill. The House provision creating a drug price regulatory board was replaced by a new provision that would grant price regulatory powers to the Secretary of Health who would in turn make his recommendation to the President.

"The Secretary of Health is in a better position to review drug prices compared to a board composed of political appointees without sufficient backgrounds about medicines and prices," Abaya added.
The LP stalwart pressed for the bill’s passage by May 1. "This is our collective gift to the people on Labor Day and we should not allow people with vested interests to succeed in blocking this bill."

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