Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte. File
Manolo B. Jara, Correspondent
President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte signed an executive order for a sharp reduction of as much as 56 per cent in the maximum current prices of about 120 essential medicines that have gone beyond the reach especially of poor Filipinos, a senior cabinet official revealed on Monday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea explained the order was in response to increasing demands especially from poor and ordinary Filipinos for easier access to affordable medicines especially “maintenance” drugs.
The order, Medialdea said, represented a 56 per cent reduction in the prices of essential drugs used by Filipinos afflicted by ailments such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases as well as chronic lung diseases.
Other essential drugs covered by the price reductions include neonatal drugs or those used for ailing infants or newborn babies, major cancers as well as a skin ailment called psoriasis and rheumatic arthriti, according to Medialdea.
In a separate interview, freshman Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, a close Duterte ally and the former presidential assistant, confirmed Medialdea’s announcement.
Go noted that the Duterte order was in compliance with the provisions of a law known as the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act passed and enacted by Congress in 2008.
“This has been a law for many years,” Go, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, told reporters on Monday morning.
“We all know,” he pointed out, “that a lot of Filipinos, especially the poor, need these medicines. They have no choice but to buy these medicines even if they are expensive so that they can live longer. These include medications for diabetes, hypertension and major cancers.”
Malacanang Palace officials said Duterte signed the order 10 years after the passage of the law and despite strong opposition from the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP).
The PHAP warned the order would “kill” the small drug retailers and force drug manufacturers to reconsider launching new products in the Philippines.
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