Roxas demands resignation of DOH officials

Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas yesterday demanded the resignation of top health officials for failing to make cheap quality medicines available to Filipinos one year after the signing of a new law that bucked multinational companies’ decades of control of the local market.
"Ayokong magsalita ng patapos pero mukhang ang pinakamalaking hadlang o balakid para maibaba ang presyo ng gamot dito sa ating bansa ay ang DOH mismo (I don’t want to give any last word but it seems it is the DOH which is the main problem in enforcing this law)," he added.

"Dapat ang burden ngayon ay nasa DOH para patunayan nila na hindi sila kasabwat ng pharmaceutical companies na ito (The burden is now with the DOH to prove they are not in collusion with the pharmaceutical companies," he said after Tuesday’s Quality Affordable Medicines oversight committee hearing.
Roxas, seconded by Rep. Teodoro Locsin and Rep. Antonio Alvarez, summoned Health Secretary Francisco Duque to the next hearing on Monday (June 8) to personally respond to the oversight panel’s queries and to "defend his boys’ failure to implement the law."

During the hearing, the Visayan senator called for the resignation of Health Undersecretary Alexander Padilla after the latter failed to present anew the Maximum Retail Price (MRP) list for essential drugs.

He noted that almost one year after the law was enacted in June 6 last year, "iyong parallel importation, walang pera o kakaunting pera lamang ang inilagay ng DOH. Dito sa pagtakda ng Maximum Retail Price, hanggang sa ngayon, wala pa rin silang ginagawa."

Roxas also found unacceptable Padilla’s declaration that there was no need for the MRP because there is allegedly an existing competition among pharmaceutical companies in the country and that prices of many medicines have supposedly gone down.
"Is he crazy? Does he not know how expensive medicines are in this country?" the Visayan senator fumed.
Roxas urged President Arroyo to order Duque to explain his office’s failure to implement the law, which he noted would have benefited the public if it was fully and correctly enforced.

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