The cheaper medicines law was finally passed by both houses of congress (Senate and House of Representatives). Expected to be signed by the President, the new law to be called Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 is expected to bring down the price of medicines in the Philippines.
Its most salient provisions include:
-Allowing the parallel importation of patented brands from countries where those are priced significantly lower.
Giving the President the power to set price ceilings on various drugs, upon the recommendation of the secretary of health.
-Giving the consumer more choices by requiring drug outlets to have an assortment of brands for every drug.
-Allowing local generics companies to test, produce and register their versions of patented drugs, so it can be sold right upon patent expiry (“early working principle”).
-Strengthening the Bureau of food and Drug (BFAD) in order for it to ensure the safety of medicines. Such will be done by allowing the BFAD to retain its revenues for the upgrading of facilities, equipment and human resources.
Within the coming months, the Philippine government expects the price of medicines to become more affordable to 90 million Filipinos. Prior to the passing of the new law, revelations that some foreign brands are being sold as high as 800 times higher in the Philippines compared to neighboring countries became a topic of hot debates.
In a country where a good number of citizens live below the poverty line, such a law is also expected to give a government badly battered by issues of corruption and incompetence some badly needed satisfaction points.
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